Facebook Adds Shopping Features in Push To Lure Retailers
When searching for a new coffeemaker online, Facebook is typically not the first site consumers visit. But the social media company wants to change that with new e-commerce features that it has started testing. Several of the features aim to get users clicking on more ads and making more purchases, the company said today on its Facebook for Business blog.
Facebook said it is particularly interested in making it easier for people to shop on their mobile devices. “Marketers are challenged to reach their customers and drive sales on mobile,” the company said on its blog. “For people, the mobile shopping experience is often difficult to navigate. Customers can experience slow load times and too many steps on the way to checkout. This is bad for people and bad for marketers.”
From Carousel to Canvas
Although Facebook isn’t the first name people think of when it comes to e-commerce, the company said that a survey of users revealed that as many as 50 percent are actively looking for new products to buy when they visit the site. Many of them discover new products through the News Feed, Pages, or Groups features, according to Facebook.
Last year, the company introduced the “carousel” format for ads, which allows advertisers to exhibit multiple product images and links in single ads. According to Facebook, advertisers have seen a 30 percent to 50 percent decline in cost-per conversion for ads using the carousel format. In particular, the carousel format makes it easier to shop on a mobile device.
Facebook is also testing a format called "canvas," designed to help retailers whose potential customers walk away after clicking on ads because their mobile Web sites take too long to load. The company said it has been testing the feature with a number of businesses since June, and will be testing an upgrade to the format in the next few weeks.
“After clicking on an ad, people will see a fast-loading, full-screen experience where they can browse through a variety of products, before going to the retailer’s Web site to purchase,” the company said.
A New 'Pages'
Facebook said it will also be rolling out changes to its Pages feature, which is already popular with businesses. Among the updates will be a new “Shop” section that will allow retailers to either link to their own store sites or sell products directly through their Facebook pages.
The social media platform is also considering creating a single, dedicated space where users can go to shop, rather than browse through multiple areas like the News Feed, Pages, and Groups.
“We’re testing with a limited set of small businesses in the U.S. who are also testing the Shop section on Pages,” the company said. “Their products will be eligible to appear there. Over time we’ll explore incorporating additional content into this experience, such as items listed for sale in Facebook Groups.”