It will come as no surprise to claim that Facebook wants to keep its users on Facebook. The next step in that process? Making it easier for users to shop without leaving the platform.
What is happening?
Facebook is introducing a ‘buy’ call to action button on product ad listings for Shopify merchants. This ‘buy’ button will allow consumers to easily purchase items they see on their News Feed or on Pages, without having to leave Facebook to complete the transaction.
The system will use the same Shopify infrastructure, making it secure for both merchants and consumers, and is optimised for mobile.
Other social networks are also getting in on the act, with Pinterest ready to roll out a very similar model shortly.
Why does it matter?
For Facebook, this is a big step in encouraging ecommerce partners to become more active on the platform. The social network is actively looking to engage brands onto its revenue-generating platforms and, by offering a purchasing process that it believes will offer stronger CPAs and conversion rates, it will be confident that it can entice more brands onto the Shopify platform.
Facebook will also be hopeful that the system will increase its own site dwell times. Keeping Facebook users on Facebook, rather than bouncing them to other sites, is critical to its business model. Much like Instant Articles, which is encouraging publishers to hand their content over to Facebook, this is very much about encouraging brands to do as much business as possible on the social platform.
For brands, it offers another channel for driving revenue through social networking. As brands become more sophisticated at social media advertising and driving revenue through social ads, Shopify provides another, arguably less intrusive, method to engage consumers.
What happens next
At the moment, Shopify is typically preferred by smaller retailers and traders, but the potential is definitely there for larger brands to become Shopify merchants and move at least some of their operations to the platform, much in the way that many retailers use eBay as a ‘clearance’ or ‘outlet’ channel.
Facebook is trialling the system with a small number of retailers to identify what works, what doesn’t and where any leaks in the sales funnel may lie. Ultimately, if the figures add up this could become Facebook’s case study for encouraging bigger brands to embrace Facebook as a direct sales channel.
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