Why Facebook Shops work for small retailers

by Ciarán McKivergan. There are very good reasons why small retailers and entrepreneurs should consider adding Facebook Shops (and its sibling Instagram Shops and related app Whatsapp), as their digital channel to market.

by Ciarán McKivergan. There are very good reasons why small retailers and entrepreneurs should consider adding Facebook Shops (and its sibling Instagram Shops and related app Whatsapp), as their digital channel to market. Adding a digital channel to a bricks and mortar retail business – potentially even a van and warehouse retail business (if you are taking orders via your smartphone for delivery or selling out of the van in the parking lot of a park frequented by dog walkers) – is a no-brainer. Making use of Facebook Shops – if you are too small to employ a developer and have no digital skills yourself – only makes the decision easier.

These reasons are in recent figures for internet usage during #lockdownSA:

  • Internet usage increased by 47%, adding an extra 2.8 million unique daily users.
  • Within the 50-54 age bracket, usage increased by 49% but, within the 55-59 bracket, it shot up by 53%; both these brackets previously largely ignored online shopping channels.
  • The total number of online shoppers increased by 19%, effectively increasing the pool by one-fifth.

Facebook Shops allows you to set up your online store on your Facebook and Instagram pages without having an existing ecommerce enabled website. In other words, you can run your entire operation via Facebook or Instagram, allowing people to view and purchase your products directly without having to leave the Facebook or Instagram eco-system. Previously, retailers were only promoting product on Facebook. If a visitor wanted to buy the product, they had to click a link through to the retailer’s ecommerce enabled website.

While, Facebook Shops is currently only available in the USA, its global launch is imminent, so it is worth preparing yourself now. The benefits of Facebook Shops include:

  • Your Instagram profile shop and/or Facebook Page shop will automatically convert to a shop. Before setting up your shop, you need to have received an email or notification that you can now use Facebook Shops. Businesses with a linked Facebook Page shop and Instagram profile may be eligible to have a shared storefront across both Instagram and Facebook.
  • You can create collections to customise your shop and attract customers. You’ll go to Commerce Manager to customise your shop and to create, arrange and customise your collections. Each collection will have a name, description, cover media and have between six to 30 products that you choose. You can organise products into collections with a variety of themes that can help your customers find products that are right for them.
  • Shops showcase your brand and products in a native mobile experience. After publishing your shop, customers will be able to find it through the Facebook or Instagram app on Apple or Android devices. Your shop will be viewed in a full-screen immersive experience and your collections will be shown as personalised products to customers.
  • Shops provide a unified presence on Facebook and Instagram. Shop customisation features are unified across the family of apps. This means that if you have a shop that is accessible from both your Instagram profile and your Facebook Page, then your collections may be visible on both Instagram and Facebook. Your shop will be available across both Instagram and Facebook if you have a Facebook Page shop associated with your Instagram profile.

Facebook Shops will most likely look like this:

While Instagram Shops will look like this:

This is what WhatsApp integration will include:

Open your doors online

Step 1: Ensure you have both a Facebook account and a Facebook business page.

Step 2: Confirm the following online:

  • You must sell physical items – this means there’s no way to sell digital or downloadable products from your Facebook Shop page.
  • Agree with Facebook’s Merchant Terms.
  • Link to a valid bank account*.
  • Have a tax identification number*.

* This is only valid for US-based stores. The exact tax identification number will vary depending on where your business is based. These features will be rolled out to South Africa in due time.


Step 3: Set up your Facebook Shop

  • Go to your Facebook Page and configure the shop page.
  • Set up your shop details.
  • Configure your payments.
  • Add products to your Facebook Shop.
  • Manage your orders, through Facebook Page Publishing Tools.

Taking your retail business digital just became easier, more cost effective and a whole lot more integrated. Do your business a favour, prepare now for Facebooks Shops, and give it a go.


Ciarán McKivergan is CEO of 8909, digital marketing solutions and MetropolitanRepublic Company. With multiple Loerie and Bookmark Awards to his name, he has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands including The Coca-Cola Company, MTN, Jaguar/LandRover, Danone, GSK, Edcon and Amstel. In 2015, he started 8909, a data-driven, strategically-led creative digital agency. Here, he has led both big brands and SMEs to successfully grasp and thrive in today’s digitally-led society.

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