Facebook is diving full-force into shopping
The company is diving full-force into ecommerce, with a handful of ad products and features meant to ramp up its shopping efforts.
In a blog post Monday morning, the company highlighted several of its existing and experimental efforts, including a new way to browse products that it's calling "Canvas," plus an expanded "Shop" section.
Facebook's last major attempt at winning ecommerce in 2011/2012 flopped, in part because people didn't want to mix shopping with social. A popular analogy at the time was that it felt like Facebook was trying to sell you stuff while you were hanging out at a bar with your friends.
The company suggests that that mindset is no more, though, referencing a survey that shows that "nearly half of people come to Facebook to actively look for products."
Making it effortless to buy and sell things on Facebook with your smartphone
"The core message underlying all of our early tests is that we're looking to make it easier for people to discover relevant products, while helping businesses drive sales on mobile," Emma Rodgers, who leads Facebook's product marketing efforts, told Business Insider.
As more people spend time on their smartphones versus desktop computers, they focus 85% of that mobile time in apps, with each person only dedicating heavy usage to about five of them, including Facebook and Instagram.
Because of that shift, and because retailers' mobile sites are often pretty wonky, Facebook wants them to use its Canvas platform and their Pages to list more products.
With Canvas, if users click on a company's product ad on their Newsfeed, it will open up a super fast-loading catalog of other items they can buy. It's like Facebook's Instant Articles, but for shopping ads, with the idea that more people will actually make purchases if the experience is fast-loading and seamless.
The more people who actually buy something through the ads, the better for both the retailer and for Facebook. If shops are seeing higher "conversions," they'll likely buy more ads (and potentially at higher prices since each one is more effective).
Although Canvas directs users to make purchases off-site, the company also continues to test a proper "Buy button" that lets them make their purchase directly on Facebook.
The other update Facebook talked about is its revamped Pages with Shop sections and plans to create a new "Shopping" section that will curate different relevant products in one place. The items that appear will be based on which Pages the users have liked, as well as content being sold in Facebook Groups that they're part of.
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