As we continue with a phased lockdown locally and fight the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, the importance of ecommerce has cropped up of late. While it still proves a divisive subject, there is a new offering on the market which could prove quite disruptive – Facebook Shops.

The new platform extends some of what Facebook has already offered, such as its Marketplace where people buy and sell from one another, and now packages it into a fully fledged ecommerce experience.

This means that Facebook or Instagram users who have created a business profile will now be people to turn their page into a digital storefront where visitors will be able to browse products and purchase them.

Facebook Shops looked geared towards small businesses in particular, most of whom have been the hardest hit by the effects of COVID-19 and varying degrees of lockdown and quarantine.

Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. 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. That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier,” the firm noted in a press release sent to Hypertext. 

“Facebook Shops make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Creating a Facebook Shop is free and simple. Businesses can choose the products they want to feature from their catalogue and then customize the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colors that showcase their brand,” it adds.

The company also explains that shoppers will be able to find a business’ Facebook Shops storefront on either their Facebook or Instagram profile, along with it appearing in Stories or advertising.

Added to this, Facebook says communication between businesses and customers will happen via WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct, so they can ask questions, get support and track deliveries.

Down the line, the firm says you’ll also be able to view a business’ shop and make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.

Before you go signing up for the service, it is limited to select regions for now, so South Africa will need to wait a few months before it rolls out to this side of the world.

We’ve reached out to Facebook South Africa for more clarity on that front, as well as what lockdown regulations local businesses will need to adhere to now that they are entering the ecommerce space.

A potential game changer for small business, it should be interesting to see how things develop with Facebook Shops in coming months.