Staying true to its mission of keeping people active on the network in all aspects of their lives, Facebook is rolling out the ability for users to buy and sell products directly through its site. The company has been playing around with the idea of a Buy button for over a year, and is now introducing shop-front functionality to its Pages, starting with a small number of pilot stores.
“The shops are still in the testing phase, but some already feature ‘Buy’ buttons that allow the entire shopping experience to occur within Facebook — from product discovery to checkout,” says product marketing manager Emma Rodgers. “With the shop section on the page, we’re now providing businesses with the ability to showcase their products directly on the page.”
Plenty of other tech companies are widening their reach to include social commerce, including Pinterest and Twitter. Just this week, Google also announced that it will be integrating a Buy button into its online ads. Enabling a seamless transaction with retailers in a social context makes perfect sense in the peer-to-peer era, and BuzzFeed’s Alex Kantrowitz believes that this may well shape how brands interact with their customers on Facebook in the future.
“On mobile, Facebook is displaying these shops very prominently,” he says. “The setup may cause brands to use Facebook in a way more aligned with what they do, selling stuff, than the content-driven approach they embraced by chaining graphic designers to desks during the Super Bowl and having them create real-time marketing memes.”
Facebook is also building on the interactive aspect of its eCommerce offering by introducing a Siri-style helper system to its Messenger app. Currently still in development, Moneypenny is a virtual personal shopper which will help users to research products, and connect them with a real person in order to complete a purchase. While details remain vague, it is speculated that Moneypenny will be operated by a dedicated team rather than by artificial intelligence, making it more akin to concierge services like Magic and Operator than virtual assistants Siri and Cortana.