Facebook Announces Plans For World’s Largest Shoppable Social Media Platform

APRIL 8, 2018: Phone sitting on laptop with Facebook desktop site reflecting on screen. The social media giant's stock has dipped sharply since the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has detailed new innovations and experiences for shoppers on Facebook.

Facebook is announcing new ways to shop across apps, investing in tech that will shape the “shopping experiences of tomorrow”, and providing solutions that will allow businesses to personalise shopping with ads.

Back in 2020, Facebook introduced Shops, which allowed small businesses to set up an online store on Facebook and Instagram. Now, there are more than 300 million monthly Shops visitors, and more than 1.2 million monthly active Shops.

Facebook’s new update will allow businesses in select countries to showcase Shops on WhatsApp.

Mark Zuckerberg said that “the first big announcement for today is [that] we’re bringing Shops to more places. So firstly, we’re bringing [Shops] to WhatsApp, and we’re bringing them to Marketplace on Facebook, which [will] make it easier for people to find [the] products or brands that they want to engage with.”

Facebook is also touting that new ads on Shop will enable a “shopping experience that is as personalised as your News Feed.”

The post goes on to explain that: “We’re testing the ability for businesses to send shoppers to where they are most likely to make a purchase based on their shopping behavior, such as curated products that you might be interested in from a Shop or a business’ website.”

“In the future, we’ll explore ways to help brands further personalize their Shops ads by providing special offers or promotions to select shoppers.”

Zuckerberg commented, “we’re launching the ability for a business to send shoppers to where you’re going to be most likely to make a purchase based on your shopping behaviour.”

Instagram visual search using augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) will be introduced.

For example, using AR, users will be able to visualise items before they buy them. Using AI, users will also have access to a visual search function, which helps people find similar products by tapping on an image of a piece of clothing they like.

Zuckerberg said that “a lot of shopping discovery begins with visual discovery, right, so you see something that you think is awesome. And then, you know, maybe you want to see other products that are like that, or you want to figure out how to get that product.”

“And this is the type of problem that AI can really help out with. [So] one of the things we’re going to do is when you’re on Instagram…We’re getting ready to start rolling out experience and testing an experience that we’re calling visual search.”

There is also Live Shopping which, according to Facebook, combines “the fun of live video with the convenience of online shopping”.

Users can ask brands questions about products they are interested in by engaging with them using Facebook Live.

Kate Box, director of retail for Facebook Australia said, “Instagram and Facebook are a new Westfield! We are making the online shopping journey more personalised, more entertaining, and more seamless. Capabilities like shoppable media, branded content, social shopping and messenger for customer service are available in Australia.”

“As today’s announcements scale globally, AI and AR will further evolve how customers discover products they love. Australian’s will be able to find products online, with visual search and try-on immersive experiences available before making a purchase. Shopping across our platforms is brimming with new innovation.”

Featured Image: iStock/David Tran

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