Facebook debuts bevy of new commerce tools as it aims to expand shopping across its apps

Key updates include the addition of Shops on WhatsApp and visual search on Instagram.

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Facebook on Tuesday announced a series of new tools and features designed to expand commerce on its social media platforms, including the addition of Shops on WhatsApp and visual search on Instagram. 

Facebook Shops, launched in 2019, enable businesses to set up their own digital storefronts within Facebook or Instagram. Facebook is now bringing Shops to WhatsApp and Marketplace on Facebook, a move that CEO Mark Zuckerberg said will make it easier for people to find the products or brands they want to engage with.

Facebook is also introducing Shop ads, which is essentially a personalized ads experience based on a person's shopping preferences. Zuckerberg said the ads aim give businesses the ability to send shoppers to where they're most likely to make a purchase based on their shopping behavior.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg said Facebook is also working on a visual search capability on Instagram, as well as AR Dynamic Ads. Powered by Facebook's AI and its GrokNet product recognition system, Instagram visual search will let users surface products they see on Instagram elsewhere in the app for purchase, or allow them to find products using their cameras or images from their camera roll.

"When you find something you'll be able to tap on it and find similar products that people across all of our shops are selling the moment that you see something that you like," Zuckerberg said. "We think that visual search is going to be really helpful in making photos shoppable Instagram overall."

On the augmented reality side, Facebook is expanding AR Try On, a feature first launched in 2019 with select merchants. The company is piloting APIs that will make it easier for businesses to import AR Try On-ready 3D objects and assets directly to Facebook, a feature that's meant to help streamline the AR publishing process.

Zuckerberg said the company is in the early stages of building camera-based search tools. The feature is set to begin testing in the US in the coming months. Meantime, the AR Dynamic Ads are currently available in the US on Facebook and the AR try-on expansion is beginning on Instagram, with Facebook to follow. 

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