Facebook expands shopping options, adds new e-commerce tools

The new features include a dedicated space on the flagship Facebook app, called Facebook Shop, where users can browse and shop for products.

Facebook on Tuesday announced a series of new tools and features designed to expand commerce on its social media platforms. The new features include a dedicated space on the flagship Facebook app -- called Facebook Shop -- where users can browse and shop for products. 

The debut of Facebook Shop is part of Facebook's ambitious plan to make "anything shoppable," whether it's an item discovered on one of Facebook's platforms or in a real-world environment. The Covid-19 pandemic this year added new urgency to Facebook's expansion into commerce, COO Sheryl Sandberg said during Facebook's second quarter conference call last month. 

"In today's economy, when businesses are struggling and customers aren't physically walking into their stores or restaurants, this is more important than ever," Sandberg said. 

The new Facebook Shop feature is currently being tested in the US. Last month, Facebook rolled out Instagram Shop, a similar feature for the photo-sharing app. 

Meanwhile, Facebook is also expanding Facebook Shops, a platform announced last May that enables businesses to set up their own digital storefronts within Facebook or Instagram. Users can find Facebook Shops storefronts on a business' Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, customers can browse and purchase items directly. 

In the coming weeks, Facebook will make Facebook Shops available to any eligible business. It's also expanding checkout to all US businesses and adding new insights to help businesses
measure results.

Facebook also plans to add a new messaging button on Shops, enabling customers to message businesses through Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram Direct. Customers can also view products within messages, making it easier to share products with friends. The feature is currently being tested on Messenger and Instagram Direct now, and Facebook will start testing it on WhatsApp soon.

Other new Facebook Shops features include new layout options, a real-time preview feature for collections as they are designed, the ability to automatically create Shops for new sellers, and the ability to measure results with new insights in Commerce Manager. 

Meanwhile, Facebook also plans to expand Checkout in Instagram in the coming weeks to all eligible sellers in the US. This feature allows users to make a purchase within the app with just a few taps. Facebook is also waving selling fees for businesses through the end of the year.