Facebook Shops will help small businesses turn their pages into storefronts

Facebook is making a push, along with Instagram, to help small businesses sell more of their goods thanks to Facebook Shops.

On Tuesday, Facebook officially announced what it’s calling Facebook Shops. It’s going to be available for the stock social network experience, and it will also be available in Instagram as well. The idea is to let small businesses turn their pages, either on Facebook or Instagram, into direct digital storefronts, making it easier than ever before for customers to buy goods from them.

Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers. That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.

Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Creating a Facebook Shop is free and simple. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalog and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand. This means any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.

As mentioned above, creating a Shop is free and Facebook says getting one off the ground is simple enough. It will allow shop owners to create a digital catalog that visitors can quickly peruse, and make it simple to buy. A crucial element is that the purchase itself will more often than not be redirected to the company’s website, and it won’t happen directly on Facebook. The exception to this will be mostly Instagram, which has a baked-in in-app checkout option for buying goods, which Facebook doesn’t have.

Getting in touch with businesses will be simple enough as well, including using WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, or Facebook Messenger:

And just like when you’re in a physical store and need to ask someone for help, in Facebook Shops you’ll be able to message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more. And in the future, you’ll be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.

And Instagram Shop will utilize Explore to find things to buy, and it will even get its own dedicated tab in the navigation bar this year:

This summer, starting in the US, we’re introducing Instagram Shop, a new way to discover and buy products you love in Instagram Explore. You can get inspired by collections from @shop, browse selections from your favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place. And later this year, we’re adding a new shop tab in the navigation bar, so you can get to Instagram Shop in just one tap.

Finally, Facebook is going to combine live video with shopping as well. It will be available for both Facebook and Instagram “in the coming months”, and will see influencers selling products. Products will be tagged in these live videos, making it easy for consumers to buy what they want when they see it thanks to prominent links as well.

At some point in the future, stores will be able to integrate their loyalty programs into Facebook Shops as well.