Last week, Mark Zuckerburg announced that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp will be gaining new eCommerce features. Intended to help retailers get their products in front of more customers, the additional tools came accompanied by the news that users are increasingly turning to Facebook as a discovery engine to find new products.
The company stated that 74% of people use Facebook platforms to discover brands or products online. That’s a substantial number! So, what are the new tools, and how can you best leverage them to support your eCommerce efforts?
Expanding shops to more places
With this new rollout, once a Facebook Shop is set up, products are eligible to appear in the Shop tabs on Instagram and Facebook. Further, businesses in several countries will be able to present their entire Shop in WhatsApp. WhatsApp users can browse a Shop’s inventory, get product information, and—interestingly—chat about specific items before making a purchase. Therefore, businesses will only need to set up their shop once to have it work across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Customer reviews on Instagram
In the coming months, customer ratings and reviews will also be expanded to products in Shops on Instagram. Beyond the basic written reviews, this new functionality will also give community members the option to include photos and videos.
Ads for Shops
Intended to highlight and feature a Shop’s curated collection, Facebook is also launching new ads to “personalize the shopping experience.” Informed by prior shopping activity, Shop ads will have the ability to send shoppers to where they are most likely to make a purchase.
Expanded use of AR in eCommerce features
Facebook is developing new APIs that will make it more accessible and cost-effective for brands and advertisers to utilize Augmented Reality in their catalogs. Essentially bringing the in-store shopping experience to mobile, brands will have the capability to allow customers to try on products virtually.
Doing it right
These new features undoubtedly present retailers with opportunities for increased exposure and engagement, but as always—execution is critical. As our Senior Product Consultant Mike Staal puts, “from a business point of view, brands are going to need to recruit adequate WhatsApp-customer support in order to leverage this new connectivity beneficially. A VERY good robot could also do the trick, but it’s going to be tricky to get it right! Ultimately, if you get the execution wrong—the harm outweighs any potential gains.”
It also remains to be seen how customers will respond to the new features. As Mike explains, “The chat feature offers a nice extra touchpoint, as many users are more comfortable engaging with a business this way rather than calling or leaving an email. On the other hand, some users might feel alienated as they see what they love about Marketplace—classifieds from real people—replaced by professional ads.”
As the new features become more widely used, we’ll be keeping an eye on how brands are using them to support their sales strategy and whether or not they are actually driving more sales. If you’d like to explore ways to strengthen your business’s eCommerce strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and book a free appointment with one of our experts.