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Facebook makes e-commerce play with Shops

Facebook makes e-commerce play with Shops

Mark Zuckerberg is diving into e-commerce, launching a service that lets small businesses set up storefronts on Facebook and Instagram - although buyers will often have to leave the apps to complete purchases.

Facebook Shops lets firms set up online stores that can be accessed by customers on their Facebook pages and Instagram profiles.

Firms upload their inventory, pick products they want to feature and customise the look and feel of their shop with a cover image and accent colours. Customers will be able to communicate with sellers via WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram Direct.

Most shoppers will have to leave the Facebook Shop and go to the business' website to complete purchases. However, for US firms that are part of Facebook's Checkout invitation-only programme, sales can be completed within the app - with Facebook collecting a small fee.

Shops is free, with Facebook hoping that it will make money by bringing in more data to help refine its advertising and giving firms another reason to tap into that advertising.

In the future, businesses will be able to sell products WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct. They will also be able to tag products during Facebook and Instagram livestreams, so customers can click through to ordering pages.

Although long-planned, Zuckerberg says that Shops is being launched at a time when small businesses are having to turn to online sales because of Covid-19 pandemic.

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