Facebook & Instagram Shops Just Got Way Better for Small Businesses

Back in May, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Shops: a game-changing feature that enables brands to sell their products directly via Facebook and/or Instagram. In our post about the feature, we mentioned a few important developments set to be released in the future.

Well, the future is here! Last week, Facebook announced a few exciting updates to the Facebook and Instagram shopping experience. Here’s what’s new, and what it means for small business owners.

The Facebook Shop section

What’s happening: Back in July, a Shop tab was introduced to the Instagram interface, allowing users to browse products and offerings they could buy right from the app. Last week, a similar section was launched in the Facebook app as well. The feature is now being tested in the USA only.

What it means for you: This tab will make it easier for potential customers to find your products. People who voluntarily enter the shopping section are already looking for products to buy and are therefore further along the sales funnel than many people you might reach with a targeted ad.

New features for your Facebook Shop

What’s happening: Facebook added some new features to Facebook Shops. The new features include:

  • New design layouts that make it easier for you to highlight particular products in your Shop
  • The ability to preview your collections in real time as you design them
  • The ability to create a new Shop automatically if you’re just getting started as a seller on Facebook
  • A new analytics feature for measuring your results from the Commerce Manager

What it means for you: The first two new features make it easier to design a compelling virtual storefront that leads your customers to the products you most want them to see. The third makes it easier to set up your Shop if you don’t have one already, and the fourth makes it possible to gain powerful insights into your results, which can help you adjust your strategy down the line and increase your conversion rates.

Instagram Checkout 

What’s happening: The in-app checkout option has been enabled in Instagram for all USA-based sellers. Previously, you could enable in-app checkout in your Facebook Shop. Now, you can do it for your Instagram Shop, too. And the best part? This service will be fee-free for businesses until the end of the year. Facebook made that gesture to help small businesses still dealing with the financial difficulties related to the pandemic.

What it means for you: In-app checkout removes several barriers from the customer and allows for a much smoother, easier purchasing experience. It means they will be able to enter their credit card information just once, and complete all future purchases in just a few taps, with no need to fumble with a wallet or visit third-party sites. This translates to higher conversion rates for you. And the fact that there’s no fee until the end of the year is a major bonus!

Shops Messaging button

What’s happening: Facebook has added a messaging button to Shops that allows customers to contact the shop owner directly to ask questions. At the moment, customers can use this feature to contact you via Messenger or Instagram Direct, and Facebook is currently testing adding it to Whatsapp, too.

What it means for you: The messaging button is the virtual equivalent of having a salesperson there to help your customers and guide them through the selection and purchase process. So often, a customer will be interested in making a purchase but will be missing a crucial piece of information, and won’t want to bother figuring out how to contact you to ask. The messaging button makes it much easier for them to get the information they need to complete their purchase. So once again: say hello to higher conversion rates.

Live Shopping

What’s happening: It is now possible to use Facebook Live and Instagram Live to launch or feature a new product — and to sell that product to your customers directly from the Live feed!

What it means for you: This is an especially exciting feature for small businesses because it combines the convenience of the in-app shopping experience with the marketing power of livestream. Brands everywhere have found Facebook and Instagram Live an especially effective way to reach and engage with their audiences. Now, with Live Shopping, it will be easier than ever to convert your followers into paying customers. You can plan a Facebook Live or Instagram Live event that features a product — say, a tutorial, or a Live interview with a happy customer — and add a purchase button right to your viewers’ screens. It makes livestreaming more like a real-life event where people can attend, enjoy what you have to offer, and make a purchase on the spot.

Action items:

  • If you haven’t created your own Facebook and/or Instagram Shop yet — now is the time!
  • Check out the new design options in Facebook Shops and see if they can spruce up your collections.
  • Start tracking your Facebook Shop insights to learn more about your customers’ purchasing behavior.
  • Be sure to enable in-app checkout on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Plan a Facebook and/or Instagram Live event that features one of your products, and add the purchase option to the livestream!

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