In July, a Facebook spokesperson announced to Buzzfeed News that it would be bringing a brand new shopping feature to its business Pages, allowing brands to showcase their products in a dedicated ‘Shop’ section on their Page, with plans in place for Facebook users to purchase directly through the social network.
Last week, testing was rolled out for the next stage with more retailers invited to the trial.
Whilst you might not stumble across it any time soon, and won’t be able to test it for your own business yet, it’s clear that there’s a new direction for Facebook Pages.
What will the new shop feature do?
Initially, the shop feature will sit as a tab on the desktop version of your Facebook business Page, next to Timeline, About and Photos. On mobile devices it will be displayed as a new shopping banner underneath the About section.
Think of the layout as similar to your photos section, with each product contained within its own box and accompanied by an image and description.
Early testing simply had each product linking off-site to the brand’s website. This latest stage is likely to see the introduction of a buying feature embedded directly within the social network.
That means your Page will essentially become a mini eCommerce website, with users never leaving the Facebook website or app.
Other new updates rolling out in the next few weeks include:
- A new services tab for businesses to list their offerings – such as treatments at a spa, or menu options at a restaurant.
- Improved calls to action at the top of the page, following in the footsteps of the “Donate” CTA on non-profit pages – with three buttons for “Contact Us”, “Send Message” and “Call Now”.
- The ability for Administrators to create pre-made, standard responses to typical queries and questions, and also “reply privately” to public comments.
Why the shift to selling products directly?
It wasn’t a huge jump for Facebook to move towards a “shop” setup within their social network. For over a year, they’ve been trialling a ‘buy’ button on their adverts, and the results have been impressive.
Numerous studies have shown how a ‘buy now’ button can dramatically increase conversion rates, and on Facebook, companies like Volvo have had huge successes. They had 28 direct car sales from their ads with a ‘shop now’ button in less than 48 hours, at which point their new range sold out.
Dynamic product adverts have also been laying the groundwork. When you can advertise and re-market specific products directly to potential customers, it isn’t a huge leap to having a shop integrated in your Page.
Away from Facebook, other platforms are also introducing direct buying options.
- Pinterest now supports ‘buyable pins’
- Google recently announced it is experimenting with ‘Purchases on Google’
- And Twitter has been slowly but deliberately rolling out ‘buy now’ ads for over a year
When research shows 87% of pinners go on to buy based on their research on the social network, having a ‘buy now’ option is a no-brainer.
Ultimately, it’s about the long term goal for Facebook - an integrated user experience. Facebook wants to keep users on their website or in their app as long as possible, essentially creating a ‘digital mall’ with a multi-brand shopping experience from a single platform.
So what does that mean for your brand?
For small businesses without their own eCommerce website or mobile app, the new shop features could be a great asset. But what about larger companies?
How will a ‘Facebook Shop’ affect your traffic acquisition and user journey?
Whilst it’s too early to know for sure, chances are that with the right planning and implementation, it will be beneficial.
- It can act as a portal to your website – Businesses should be able to choose whether to sell directly via Facebook or send users through to their website, likely in the form of a “pop-up” within the Facebook app (as per content websites).
- It can build brand trust – Users are likely to trust Facebook more than your brand initially; conducting purchases through the social platform will transfer that trust over time.
- It won’t cost you (at the moment) – Though this may change in the future, Facebook doesn’t currently take a commission from the sale. It’s likely that the value of having users stay on the social network and increased data about buyer intent will be more lucrative to them in advertising revenue.
- It could improve the mobile experience – Recent data showed that whilst desktop ads had an average conversion rate of 1.1%, mobile ads had only 0.3%. Whether this is a result of mobile responsiveness or not, Facebook is keen to target mobile users. According to research from Forrester, 80% of time spent on mobile apps is spent within the ‘Top 5’ – Facebook being one of them.
- It should mean better tracking and measurements – The discrepancies between Facebook and Google Analytics is notorious; the shopping feature should allow users to more easily measure click-throughs and direct conversions, making the value of social advertising even clearer.
- It could streamline your purchasing funnel – With payment details remembered with auto-fill and a simple ‘buy and confirm’ two-step process, users could experience a smoother buying experience and your brand could benefit from both a reduction in drop-offs and more impulse purchases.
What do you need to do?
Right now, the ‘Facebook Shop’ feature is only being rolled out to select businesses and is still in the testing stages. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for the direction the social network is heading in.
It’s unlikely you’ll place your entire catalogue in ‘the shop,’ so use dynamic product ads now to determine which are your most popular.
As your Page will grow in importance, it may also be worth devising a strategy for how to send traffic there, as well as to your website. Your products won’t just be displayed in the Timeline anymore; they’ll be on your Page too.
Need help with this, or your social advertising? Let us see how we can improve your brand’s reach on Facebook.