Facebook Shops: driving social commerce usage across generations

This week, Mark Zuckerberg himself addressed Facebook’s plans to move forward with and really commit to commerce on its platform. With the introduction of “Facebook (and Instagram, soon) Shops,” users will now “be able to browse and buy products directly from a business’ Facebook  Page or Instagram profile” (TechCrunch).

We all know that Facebook already has its Marketplace where users or small business owners can list their products and provide contact information or a link to their website, but Facebook Shops will go way beyond this. Instagram has shopping features as well that allow brands and businesses to link their products to a post that users can then click on that will redirect them to the individual brand’s website.

If you follow retail headlines, you probably also heard about Shopify’s “Shop” app that allows users to browse through products from their favorite brands that use the Shopify merchant platform and then keep track of all of their orders. This was convenient, however, there were still some gaps that I break down in depth in this post.

My biggest issue with Shopify’s app is that it redirected you to a brand’s website to make a purchase even though it claimed to have “streamlined the checkout process.” Instagram’s shopping features do this as well as of now, which means that you can only shop from one brand at a time. Being redirected to a website outside of that app is not my streamlined checkout dream, but, in comes Facebook Shops to save the day with Instagram following shortly behind.

Side note…Facebook/Instagram Shops are going to partner up with Shopify, BigCommerce, and a variety of other commerce platforms in the near future, which means even more excitement coming for the retail industry.

Right now, you can choose to shop locally of Facebook’s Marketplace, which will show you listings by people in your area, or you can shop from stores on Facebook’s Marketplace, which will show you listings from any stores who have chosen to use this new feature. The best part is that YOU CAN ADD MULTIPLE PRODUCTS TO YOUR CART FROM DIFFERENT STORES AND CHECK OUT ALL IN ONE GO! Bless.

In the picture below, I screenshotted my view of searching for a pair of sneakers in my regular search bar. From there I clicked on a pair of Fila’s, picked my size, and added them to my cart from a store apprently called BHFO (a real company based in Cedar Rapids, IA). Simple as that, and I never left the app.

Moving on to the bigger picture of this story…

My first thought when I read about this was that now my parents and their friends and my grandparents can all be exposed to social commerce because they all seem to be heavy users of the app but have probably never made a purchase from their phone at all. Social commerce now gets to infiltrate itself into the lives of people around the world and isn’t necessarily aimed for just Millennials and Gen Z’ers.

I personally only use to Facebook to occasionally post about updates in my life and I’ll ever so often upload pictures from trips for my family to see. Every here and there I’ll get stuck in a marathon of watching cute dog videos. Needless to say, I never actually scroll through my feed.

My mom, aunts, uncles, and grandparents (covering older millenials, Gen X’ers and Boomers) all actually scroll through Facebook as a form of entertainment, either via the app or even on their computers, and I think if they all knew that they could also literally shop right off of the app or website, they would be willing to give it a try. They all grudgingly adopted online shopping via Amazon, so I see this having potential to really bring social commerce into the conversation of consumer behavior for those older than, say, 40.

According to sproutsocial, 79% of 30-49 year old’s use Facebook, as do 68% of 50-64 year old’s, and many younger millenials and teens have actually decreased usage or have abandoned the app because they have found apps that they prefer more such as Instagram and Snapchat, which means that Facebook Shops will either attract more youngsters to the platform and/or will bring social commerce into the lives of those who it is not already.

Facebook Shops is another step in the social commerce revolution, and I think it may even have the potential to become the way that the majority of people shop.

Featured image from TechCrunch.

Published by Emma Irwin

Emma Irwin is a passionate student of the retail industry. Freshly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Retail Merchandising, she will be pursuing an M.S. in Apparel Studies with a concentration in Retail and Consumer Studies in fall 2020. Career ambitions include writing a formal research paper, becoming a retail writer and reporter, and maybe being a CEO someday.

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