Facebook Shops will roll out in Australia in the coming months, giving local businesses the ability to set up online storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. 

The new commerce tool from the social media giant was announced overnight and features a new checkout, shopping tab, and shoppable live streams which will keep consumers inside the Facebook family of apps to discover and buy products. 

Similar to the company’s existing advertising tools, Facebook Shops is aimed at businesses of all sizes, providing them simple tools to start selling online. The storefronts can also be linked to third party ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce. 

The social commerce products extend Facebook’s existing Marketplace and Shop Instagram features to include a checkout inside Facebook’s app, which Facebook will collect a transaction fee from. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has indicated the company has no plans to slow down during the COVID-19 pandemic and local Facebook boss Will Easton said the launch was accelerated as more businesses turn to digital channels. 

Instagram Live shopping features

“Over the past three months businesses of all sizes have been forced to change their business models and adapt to selling online. We’ve accelerated our development of new products, giving businesses better means of connecting with consumers, and helping businesses who don’t have an online presence to drive sales online,” said Will Easton, Managing Director, Facebook Australia and New Zealand.

“Today we are announcing a raft of new shopping features that will start to roll out in Australia in the coming months. We want to make it easy to set up a single online Shop for customers to access on Facebook and Instagram. When visiting these Shops, customers can learn that business’s story, see its featured products, and buy them in our apps.”

Creating a store on the platform is free. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalogue and then customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand.

For discovery, the shops can be promoted on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, through stories or ads. 

The features rely on functionality across the whole Facebook family of apps. For example, customer service inquiries can be completed through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support or track deliveries. 

In the future, shoppers will be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct, the company said. 

In the US summer, Facebook said it will launch Instagram Shops to discover and buy products via Instagram Explore tab. Later this year, Facebook will add a new ‘shop’ tab in the navigation bar. 

The company also laid out a roadmap for features that resemble Alibaba’s Tmall live streaming events, which combine commerce and entertainment to drive sales and engagement. 

Facebook says sellers, brands and creators will be able to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalogue before going live on Instagram and those products will be shown at the bottom of the video so people can easily tap to learn more and purchase. 

The business will start testing this with businesses on Facebook and Instagram, and will roll it out more broadly in the coming months.  

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