With Facebook looking to make eCommerce a bigger focus in order to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19, The Social Network has this week announced a new, specific eCommerce element within its startup accelerator program, which will provide training and support to "innovative commerce startups" that are looking to improve the online shopping experience.
The program will be one of two new streams being offered by the Facebook Accelerator Program, with the other focused on improving connectivity.
The commerce stream, meanwhile, aims to boost initiatives utilizing new technologies, including AI-powered catalog management and AR-based shopping experiences.
As per Facebook:
"In this critical time, Facebook is doubling down on commerce and accelerating its work to enable every business to sell online and help people gain inspiration, discover and buy the products they love. Our commerce vision is one unified shopping experience across all Facebook apps. We can’t achieve this alone, so we are looking for startups to build technology with us."
This comes as Facebook works towards a full launch of Facebook and Instagram Shops, which will make it easier for retailers to sell products direct on two of the most used social apps in the world. Facebook is still ironing out the details, but Facebook Shops could be a transformative move for the platform, and for digital commerce more broadly.
What we've seen of Shops thus far is that it will offer a simple, streamlined process for connecting your product catalog to your Facebook/Instagram presence, which can then be added to posts, included in a separate tab, promoted, etc.
Additional presentation and management options will further improve this, and as Facebook works to stretch into facilitating more buying behavior, it could become a key consideration for all brands.
On the new mini-site for the Commerce Accelerator program, Facebook specifically notes that it's looking for commerce solutions which address these key areas:
- Technology that makes it quick and easy for companies to upload and manage inventory online
- Solutions that enrich product catalog functionality and intelligence
- Shopping experiences that help buyers in their consideration phase to make more informed purchasing decisions
- New and interesting solutions that drive innovation and enhanced shopping experiences
It'll be interesting to see what comes of the new push, and how Facebook looks to integrate advanced eCommerce tools into its new Shops options.
Start-ups working in these areas can apply to be part of the program here.