Facebook launches “Shops” across all its platforms in major challenge to Amazon

Facebook is launching a new ecommerce platform in a major challenge to Amazon and its latest concentrated push into online retail.

‘Facebook Shops’ was launched in the UK and Ireland yesterday across Facebook and Instagram, with plans to launch the service across Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp in the near future.

Its new tool allows any retail business “no matter what size or budget” to launch an online storefront for free across its range of social media platforms.

These storefronts can be run by various third-party platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce, allowing retailers to seamlessly integrate their existing stores.

Customers can find a business’ Shop page on their Facebook and Instagram profiles, as well as in stories or promoted ads.

READ MORE: Major shopping changes coming to Facebook Marketplace, Instagram and WhatsApp

They can then save items they like or place an order directly in the shop. Some businesses will redirect customers to their own website to complete checkout, while others will allow shoppers to checkout via Facebook seeing the social media giant will take a small cut.

Businesses can interact with customers using Messenger, Instagram Chat or WhatsApp, and the company plans to allow shoppers to browse and make orders within these apps in the near future.

Loyalty programmes will also be included, Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said during a live stream yesterday, adding: “We’re exploring ways to help small businesses create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops.”

“Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers.

“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.”

This marks the largest and most radical push yet into ecommerce after launching numerous initiatives last year allowing customers to shop directly through Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook already has over 160 million small businesses signed up on its various platforms, meaning that Shops could become a major contender for Amazon’s dominance relatively quickly.

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