'Facebook Shops' Arrives in the UK

12 November 2020

Google Shopping is rolling out free listings as businesses struggle with the pandemic and its effect on brick-and-mortar stores. The question is how social media is following suit, especially how Facebook is responding to make its platform more e-commerce friendly.

Facebook as part of the E-commerce Channel Mix

Facebook nowadays is firmly part of most companies’ social media marketing efforts, especially from an awareness perspective. Using Facebook to drive direct sales, however, isn’t a common practice. Enter the new Facebook Shops being introduced, initially launched in North America, and finally now in the first iteration across the pond in the UK.

Facebook Shops Provide Unrivalled Reach

Why Facebook would be perfect for retailers to sell their goods on is the advantages it has over a platform such as Google Shopping. Where Google Shopping relies on user intent and keyword searches, Facebook is more audience-focused.

For example, on Google Search, it only makes sense to show an ad for a product if someone searches for it. On Facebook, however, you can reach and promote your products to any audience you choose.

Being able to dial-up reach (and dial down) is not as straightforward on platforms such as Google Ads & Shopping.

Facebook Shops are More Than Just Listings

Also, advertising on Google Shopping does require significant setup and infrastructure. For example, using Google Shopping requires a working webshop that is crawlable and optimized.

Facebook Shops promises to take care of that entirely for advertisers. Being able to advertise and provide a shopping flow on the same platform creates a seamless experience that could open up e-commerce capabilities for retailers that would normally not have the resources to do so.

Rich Experience of Facebook Shops

Another great advantage of Facebook is that the whole setup is more inviting for richer shopping experiences than Google. Users on Google are usually task focused on getting product X for the best price, quickest delivery, etc.

With Facebook, you can offer a broader brand experience, including rich media and interaction. Facebook Shops stand out by using all these features and transcend the simple listings of other platforms such as Google Shopping.

Facebook Shops Still Unfinished Article

The problem with Facebook Shops is, although it holds much promise, is simply not ready yet. Integrated checkout features are only usable in North America at the moment.

This means that advertisers need to have a US bank account to set up the checkout of Facebook Shops and that only users in North America can make use of it.

Advertisers can create Facebook Shops outside of North America, but the checkout would take place via a messenger process. This is a long and cumbersome process. For most advertisers, it would be a non-starter until this process has been localized for individual countries.

When is the Right Time to Use Facebook Shops?

Facebook Shops are still very much work-in-progress. It is promising and has the potential to become part of the e-commerce channel mix for many retailers.

The expectation is that those companies with a high maturity level of their e-commerce will quickly adapt and get their Facebook Shops up and running (with significant support from Facebook itself).

For other retailers, it might be worthwhile to wait until all essential features are implemented and past the teething issues.