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Facebook Shops to let retailers sell directly to consumers

Social commerce is about to get a whole lot more social, with Facebook announcing the launch of its business-to-consumer marketplace offering Facebook Shops. 

The new platform began rolling out in New Zealand yesterday, and will be progressively rolled out across international markets during the coming months.

Shops will leverage the co-owned ecosystem of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to make it easy for customers to find the products they want, wherever they are, and be able to get in contact with the business selling if they need more information.

Businesses will be able to set up a partly-customisable storefront within Facebook, which can be accessed through Facebook, Instagram, or through stories or ads. 

In the US, customers will be able to check out directly within Facebook – though this feature has yet to make it to Australia and New Zealand. 

“Over the past three months businesses of all sizes have been forced to change their business models and adapt to selling online,” Facebook Australia and New Zealand MD Will Easton said.

“We’ve accelerated our development of new products, giving businesses better means of connecting with consumers, and helping businesses who don’t have an online presence to drive sales online.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says Shops will be free for businesses to access.

“Our business model here is ads, so rather than charge businesses for Shops, we know that Shops are valuable for businesses. They’re going to – in general – bid more for ads and we’ll eventually make money that way.”

And later this year the business will expand Shops into its live-streaming features, in which a business can tag products that will be on display before starting a stream to make them purchasable when going live. 

Facebook is already working in collaboration with e-commerce partners such as Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce to enable businesses an easier time getting their Facebook Shop up and running.

Shops is the latest push by the social media giant into the world of commerce, building off the strengths of its customer-to-customer Marketplace offering.

And according to industry firm UBS the drive toward online shopping will only become more important for businesses in a post-Covid-19 world.

UBS expects online penetration to rise to 17 per cent by 2024 compared to the 11 per cent seen today. Additionally, marketplace penetration is expected to accelerate and physical store presences will decrease – a win for players such as Amazon, eBay, Catch, Kogan, and now Facebook.

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