Facebook is kicking off the holiday shopping period with a new series of eCommerce-focused events that aim to encourage the use of Facebook and Instagram shops, while it’s also looking to provide more support for SMBs, with a focus on Black-owned businesses.
First off, Facebook’s launching a new series of daily live shopping events, on both Facebook and Instagram, which will showcase the latest gift trends and deals.
As per Facebook:
“Some of the biggest brands, including Benefit Cosmetics, Cocokind, Macy’s, Paintbox Nails, Tanya Taylor, Ulta Beauty, Vuori and Walmart, will host live videos that allow you to shop the latest holiday trends from the comfort of your home.”
The project is an extension of Facebook’s initial live shopping experiment, which it launched back in May, as a means to tap into the rising interest in eCommerce.
The FOMO-factor of live-streaming, combined with limited-time offers, can drive stronger purchase response, and Facebook will be looking to boost this as a larger shopping consideration through this new showcase.
Instagram will also feature trending products on the Shop tab “from drops to collections curated by creators you love”.
In addition to this, Facebook’s also launching a new discounts program for shoppers that purchase through its apps.
“This season, we’re bringing exclusive gifts to Shops that will be available when people checkout on Facebook or Instagram. You may find gifts from Facebook and Instagram, like 20% off your first purchase and free shipping, when you complete an eligible purchase directly on our apps. And when you make an eligible purchase directly on Facebook or Instagram, you can also refer up to 10 friends to take advantage of an exclusive deal.”
It’s not clear exactly which brands or purchases qualify for these discounts, or whether Facebook is implementing them at random (and paying the difference), but again, the alerts will work to amplify its shopping options, and drive more purchase behavior through its apps.
Facebook’s also looking to provide more assistance for Black-owned businesses, specifically, which have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
“This year, we’ll continue to support businesses that need it most, starting the return of #BuyBlack Friday to encourage people to support Black-owned small businesses.”
Facebook originally launched its #BuyBlack push last October, based on research which showed that Black-owned SMBs had been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its flow-on effects.
According to a study conducted by the University of California last year, around 40% of Black-owned businesses had been forced into closure early on in the pandemic, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses, while a Facebook-commissioned report published in October showed that Black-owned businesses were closing at twice the rate of other SMBs.
And with a quarter of minority-led businesses expected to generate half of their annual sales over the holiday period (compared to 14% of other small businesses) that disparity is once again evident, which is why Facebook is looking to give these businesses specific focus and assistance where it can.
“Starting on November 5th, you can tune in every Friday in November to the #BuyBlack Friday show. The show will feature Live Shopping segments from Black-owned businesses including Shaquanda’s Hot Pepper Sauce, House of Takura and Obia Naturals, in addition to special guests and other surprises. You can also check out #BuyBlack collections, available weekly in the Facebook Shop tab starting November 1st and on the Instagram Shop tab starting November 5th.”
And finally, Facebook’s also adding some new features for Marketplace, including new processes for arranging meet-ups, and a new saved search option that will alert you when to new listings that match your criteria.
The new meet-up options aim to provide more safety in the process, with the main addition being the capacity to create a meet-up plan with buyers and sellers via Marketplace, then share it with your contacts in Messenger to let them know where you’re headed.
“To create a meetup plan:
- From your Messenger thread with the buyer or seller, tap More Options at the top.
- Tap Create Meetup Plan.
- Select the method and add the time of your meetup. You can also include the location or add notes.
- Tap Send Plan to share the plan in your chat with the buyer or seller.”
You can then share that same meet-up plan with any of your connections, providing an extra layer of safety and assurance.
Which is important, because as ProPublica reported last month, Facebook Marketplace listings have increasingly become a focus for criminals, even leading to violence, and murder, in some of the worst cases.
As per ProPublica:
“Since the start of the pandemic, criminals across America have exploited Marketplace to commit armed robberies and, in 13 instances identified by ProPublica, homicide. In one high-profile case, a woman was allegedly murdered by a man who was selling a cheap refrigerator on Marketplace. The alleged killer’s profile remained online with active listings until ProPublica contacted Facebook.”
The new measures aim to provide some level of additional security on this front - but still, it’s hard to see them being overly effective, given that Marketplace meet-ups are still required, which will still expose users to potential crime.
Then again, maybe by communicating with sellers and buyers that you’ve documented a meet-up plan, and potentially shared that with others, that will act as a deterrent. It does seem, however, that Facebook will need to give this process more consideration, based ProPublica’s findings.
The other new Marketplace meet-up feature is an option for sellers to display how they prefer to exchange an item locally, “such as a public meetup or via door drop-off or pickup to minimize in-person transactions”.
The measure is more specifically aligned with COVID mitigation measures.
It’s interesting to see Facebook’s eCommerce elements evolve, and while they haven’t seemingly become a key element of the in-app experience as yet, the holiday season looks set to be a big opportunity for Facebook to showcase its latest tools, and tap into big demand as people look to celebrate with family and friends once again.
That could make it a key inflection point for Facebook’s shopping ambitions, which could accelerate development, and help improves its processes on several key fronts.