In line with its growing e-commerce focus, Facebook has announced a number of new shopping and discovery tools, including shops on WhatsApp and shop listings in the Facebook Marketplace, as well as a new visual product search option on Instagram that looks very familiar.
The announcements were made in a Livestream from Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who also found that Facebook and Instagram stores now have over 300 million visitors per month. Zuckerberg also reported that there are more than 1.2 million monthly active stores on its platforms, a sizable amount considering that Facebook only launched its store options a year ago.
Here’s what’s next in this batch.
The biggest announcement is Shops on WhatsApp, which allows companies to showcase their entire store in the messaging app, giving users another way to find relevant products and connect with the company for more information.
According to Zuckerberg:
“We’re bringing stores to WhatsApp, which makes it easier for people to find the products or brands they want to interact with.”
That could be a significant step because while WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging app in the world, monetizing this audience has been tough as people don’t want ads in their private message threads and ads in WhatsApp Status, its own version of Stories , did not work.
This has forced Facebook to look for alternative revenue models, the most promising of which is to facilitate doing business right in the app. This is a particularly relevant aspect in developing digital markets like India, where WhatsApp is more than 500 million users. Given its presence, Facebook has worked to incorporate more business tools into the app to broaden its use and make it the main broker of more types of connections and transactions in the Indian market.
And also an important note, Zuckerberg says that bCompanies only need to set up their shop once to make it work on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which could also expand e-commerce opportunities.
In addition, Facebook also brings shop entries to the marketplace.
As you can see here, the new addition means that your stores’ product listings will be expanded to the Facebook marketplace, which gives brands more opportunities to connect with interested buyers, and Facebook more opportunities to increase browsing and buying activity promote.
In addition, those who have set up shops do not need to do anything to have their products listed on the Marketplace and appear in related searches. Facebook is still testing the best way to do this, but it will be another way of promoting expanded purchasing behavior in the app.
Store inventory in the Marketplace is now available in the United States for stores with on-site checkout.
Zuckerberg also says Facebook will soon be offering new, personalized shop ads that display items based on people’s individual shopping preferences and previous behaviors.
“We’re introducing the ability for a company to send buyers where they are most likely to make a purchase based on their purchasing behavior.”
The ads direct users to the curated collection of a shop, tailored to your registered interests.
Oh, and there is also:
Yes, Facebook is adding Pinterest’s Lens visual search tool to Instagram.
“A lot of shopping experiences start with visual exploration, right, so you see something that you think is great. And then you might want to see other products that are like this, or you might want to find out how to get it, and that’s the kind of problem that AI can really help with. [So] One of the things we’re going to do is when you’re on Instagram … we’re preparing to introduce experiences and test an experience we call visual search. “
As mentioned earlier, Visual Search is the same as Pinterest Lens and Google Lens, so users can scan a real world item or use an uploaded photo or video to find similar product listings. And while functionality has been available in other forms for some time, the ubiquity of Facebook could take it to the next level. On a Facebook scale, this means that a lot more people will now have the option to use visual search, which could quickly turn it into a habitual shopping behavior for a lot more people.
Facebook is currently testing the option in Instagram.
In addition, Facebook is making ads with product tags available worldwide, testing AR Dynamic Ads, and expanding its AR try-on partnerships.
All of this together will go a long way in fueling Facebook’s ecommerce ambitions, and as more and more people get used to searching and shopping on the stream, you can expect that boost to gain momentum and shape the way and changed the way people use each app.
That will likely be most important to Instagram because of its visual focus, but the increasing opportunities for exposure will have great benefits for a wide range of brands that will undoubtedly lead to a huge surge in interest in Facebook’s shop options.
And with e-commerce still on the rise, now is the time for the next shift. This could be an important next step for The Social Network.