Facebook may know if you've had your eye on a new fall coat—and now, if you're so inclined, you can buy said coat without leaving your newsfeed full of babies and viral videos.
The platform recently launched new shopping features that may help marketers reach consumers where they're spending more time: on their phones. It seems to be a natural move for the company, as "a survey suggested that nearly half of people come to Facebook to actively look for products, with a majority of them discovering new products in News Feed, Pages, and Groups," according to an official blog post announcing Facebook's new shopping features.
"Social commerce, or 'social buying,' is not a new concept," explains Simon Ensor, managing director of Yellowball, a digital marketing agency. "It has taken [until] now for social networks to fully ingrain themselves in our lives for the concept to have any real traction."
Along with last year's rollout of carousel ads, there's a "buy" button and a shopping section on business Pages that lets users purchase a product without leaving Facebook. That could help businesses that don't have a mobile-friendly website to reach more shoppers, considering mobile made up 29 percent of e-commerce earlier this year and is expected to reach 33 percent by year's end.
"For people, the mobile shopping experience is often difficult to navigate," the Facebook blog states. "Customers can experience slow load times and too many steps on the way to checkout."
These new features are currently available to large companies and Facebook Marketing Partners, and will be rolled out to more Facebook for Business users in the coming weeks. With the world's biggest social media platform making such a major move into e-commerce, it could become a sales and traffic driver for many businesses.
"Affordable lifestyle products will sell best, and the market will be more inclined to impulse buying on this platform," Ensor predicts.
Small Businesses React
Some small-business owners seem to be interested in taking advantage of this Facebook shopping feature for their marketing and sales efforts as well.
"I think it would be a great feature to be able to buy your favorite brands from within the newsfeed," says Jyotsna Vasudeva, owner of Govind's Grove, an online linen and bedding boutique. "Currently, the consumer has to remember my shop, get to it and then make a purchase online. It would be great if they receive a message or feed from my business page reminding them of an upcoming holiday ... say, exclusive table linen and dinner napkins to celebrate Thanksgiving. This feature will be especially good as consumers check [Facebook] multiple times a day, and it improves chances to see brands in [the] newsfeed."
That hasn't been the case for Elyse McNabb, owner of Nourish With Style, which sells reusable food pouches. "As a small, small-business owner, we've actually already added the Facebook buy products feature onto our page," McNabb says. "However, we haven't seen any traction from it at all. I think it's a really new concept that can't hurt trying it out, but probably has a long way to go in marketing before it gets any real viability.
"How we feel about it?" she continues. "Why not sell on one of the most used platforms in our target demographic? Seems to make perfect sense on paper."
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