No doubt about it, ecommerce has seen a meteoric rise in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to social distancing measures and the closure of many brick and mortar stores that were deemed non-essential, people have been quick to shift to online retailers to bridge the gap. And diving in to support this new world, we see Facebook shops making ecommerce waves.
Consumers are doing a whole lot more than just buying their groceries and essential items online. Many are filling up their digital carts as a way to break the monotony and pass the time.
With a global footprint already in place, Facebook has seized upon this market shift and just released its Facebook Shops feature. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the launch as it’ll give store owners and retailers another outlet to market their wares on a social platform that most end users are already using.
First though, let’s take a quick look at the changing tides surrounding the ecommerce industry and see where Facebook’s new offering fits in the mix.
As consumers’ buying patterns have shifted heavily online, ecommerce has become a crucial part of life. Over the past couple of months, many small businesses have moved online in a move to keep revenue flowing while their physical location has remained closed.
In a recent press release regarding its first quarter financials, Shopify shared that, “new stores created on the Shopify platform grew by 62% between March 13 and April 24, 2020 compared to the prior six weeks.” Likewise, in the first quarter of 2020, Etsy grew in active sellers by a margin of 26.4% over the prior quarter from 2,227,000 to 2,814,000. Revenue grew during the same time period by 34.7%.
According to a report just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, first quarter retail sales in the ecommerce sector topped $146.46 billion in the U.S. resulting in a 14.5% growth over the same time last year.
The ecommerce trend is certainly there. But as global retail shifts more of its weight online, how are people feeling about it?
Consumers’ eCommerce Feelings
An analysis of sentiment drivers in NetBase over the past three months shows a mixed bag of emotions. Notice that ‘best online shopping experience’ is juxtaposed with ‘worst online shopping experience,’ while ‘shopping’ is featured both positively and negatively:
Folks are just a mess of emotions online. Brands really require nuanced social listening options to sort it all out.
For example, while a lot of the sentiment surrounding ecommerce appears negative, much of the conversation is more tongue-in-cheek as people lament how much online shopping they’re actually doing. Such an important distinction to understand when basing strategic decisions on your social analytics intel.
Top ecommerce contenders are certainly listening wisely . . .
Top eCommerce Contenders
In the U.S., Amazon holds the lead by a longshot in the e-commerce industry, followed by eBay, Walmart and Etsy respectively. But with the introduction of Facebook Shops, the social media giant is quickly getting its name in the conversation. And it could disrupt this space in short order.
Using the storyline overview function in Quid shows that the launch of Facebook Shops is taking up a sizeable portion of the overall stories last week surrounding ecommerce. Only Walmart’s surging first quarter online sales beat it out in terms of article volume.
As online retailers adjust to increases in volume, Facebook Shops could be a game-changer. This is particularly true as it’s based on a platform already heavily integrated into consumers’ lives. This is evidenced by the fact that Facebook is already sitting in the neighborhood of top ecommerce brands in regard to social engagement.
Many brands and small businesses already have a Facebook page where they can interact with consumers. The fact that these businesses can now leverage those connections into direct sales is huge. And doing so without leaving the platform may have implications for other online retailers such as Amazon or Walmart that don’t have that personal connection.
It will be interesting to watch, for sure, as Facebook is actively pushing the whole idea of ‘local shops for local shoppers.’ And people love supporting local businesses.
Facebook Shops Shake Everything Up
While Facebook has dabbled in the ecommerce spectrum with its marketplace feature, it’s doubling down on it with Facebook Shops. And it’s really a no-brainer given our current social climate.
Facebook has disclosed that it has formed working partnerships with other ecommerce companies such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, ChannelAdvisor and others stating that, “these organizations offer powerful tools to help entrepreneurs start and run their businesses and move online. Now they’ll help small businesses build and grow their Facebook Shops and use our other commerce tools.”
That’ll be a huge help for many struggling business owners overwhelmed by a rocky economy and little experience with setting up an online store and marketing themselves. And that’s evidently good news as both Facebook and Shopify are leading the pack in sentiment by company comparison.
Facebook is banking on ease of use as a factor in the success of Facebook Shops. The shop builder platform will be part of a user’s existing Facebook page tools, and they’ll have the option of integrating inventory that they may already have uploaded on the aforementioned ecommerce sites such as Shopify. Additionally, customers will have the ability to connect with shops directly through their shop listings via WhatsApp, Instagram Direct and Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Shops’ Fantastic Functionalities
But that’s not even close to the end of the road as far as functionality goes. Loyalty programs/schemes are also being tested for use. And so are live video product integrations allowing featured items to be purchased from within live videos. Even that doesn’t cover everything Facebook Shops has in the works!
Not only will there be the obvious buyer/seller capabilities; opportunities for social media influencer engagements exist as well. There will be affiliate links and supply partnerships, and these offerings are sure to quickly build traction. It will be important for brands to have a transparent and accurate influencer analytics tool in place as they start using these options. Not all influencers are actually influential – and it’s important to make that distinction early.
Be sure to reach out for a personalized demo and we can help you make the most of this amazing brand marketing opportunity!