Facebook has already established itself as the gold standard for social media advertising, but now the company is striving to stake a claim as an integral component of online commerce. According to Marketing Land, Facebook is testing a new shopping feature that allows brands to host catalogs and make items available for sale right through the social network itself, which eliminates the need to drive clicks through to a separate retail website. As the Facebook shopping feature removes a step in the purchasing process, it has the potential to increase consumer shopping activity.
Facebook Establishes Itself in the Online Retail Space
After installing a "Buy" button last year to more directly drive shopping referrals from Facebook business pages, the company is now creating an even more robust commerce experience. The introduction of this Facebook shopping tool is the latest — and most significant — step made by the social network to establish itself in the online retail space. If testing goes well, a platform-hosted shop may find a permanent home underneath the "About" section of a brand's profile page.
Implications for Advertisers
Even though the feature is still in the testing phase, it carries huge implications for both retailers and advertisers, as Facebook has already solidified its reputation for exceptional customer targeting. The enormous global population of its users and its unprecedented access to consumer information endow targeted ads on the platform with incredible value.
And this micro-shopping experience will be optimized for mobile devices, which is particularly valuable for brands that are struggling to deploy a respectable mobile commerce product. As Facebook is known for its sleek design and extensive security measures, it has the potential to provide customers with a mobile shopping experience that will rival those offered by official retail websites.
Overall, this new feature has the potential to increase the value of ads by making them more effective. Furthermore, because the purchasing activity stays within the platform, the data feedback for campaigns could become even more robust. Through this shopping feature, Facebook also creates the opportunity to have ad campaigns experience a higher degree of integration with platform-hosted catalogs, thereby opening the door to new approaches to Facebook campaign management.
If proven successful, this new feature would put Facebook in a position in which it could potentially take a small percentage of the profit from sales driven through its platform. However, as Marketing Land points out, there have not yet been any rumors circulating that Facebook will take a cut, so the social media giant may in fact continue to offer this feature as a free service. But retailers would likely be more than happy to pay a fee if the process of adding a shop on the Facebook platform would increase their sales.
There's no official word on when, or if, the Facebook shopping feature will be readily available to mainstream profiles, but it's likely that the company will strive to find a way to make the tool fully functional, as it has the potential to reap major rewards.