Social network dives deep into marketplaces through free online platform targeting small, local businesses
Facebook is no longer just a social network and advertising platform. With the launch of Shops, the new online marketplace platform for small businesses, Facebook is jumping into the world of e-commerce and getting directly in the path of Amazon.
The Lowdown: Citing the economic suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook said it’s launching Shops as a means of helping small businesses remain viable in the face of disruptions caused by social distancing and compulsory shutdowns. The goal, Facebook says, is to help businesses — from Main Street shops to “global brands” — connect with customers.
The Details: Partnering with marketplace platform providers and enablers, Facebook is rolling out Shops with features that enable businesses to promote their brands, display their products and services, manage loyalty programs, and transact payments. Shops will span the Facebook and Instagram platforms, enabling consumers to find and acquire products through traditional PC browsers and mobile devices (as pictured above). When Shops becomes available, businesses can create their e-commerce presence through their standard Facebook business page.
The Impact: Digital sales channels — such as e-commerce and marketplaces — are growing exponentially, but small businesses are less apt to have online sales capabilities due to the complexity and expense. Several marketplace companies offer the platforms and services to support online selling. However, those services are often complex and expensive to implement. Facebook Shops, which offers an experience similar to Facebook’s Marketplace feature, could open the door for more online selling — including B2B technology product sales.
Channelnomics Point of View: While Facebook Shops is clearly targeting SMB consumer retailers and businesses, such platforms have often proven irresistible to local solution providers. In the past, B2B IT resellers and service providers offered products and conducted transactions through consumer platforms such as eBay and Craigslist. Facebook Shops will likely draw a fair number of technology solution providers as a secondary means of attracting and capturing new customers.