In an effort to help small businesses during the pandemic, Facebook announced a few hours ago the launch of Shops, a way for businesses to set up free stores on Facebook and Instagram. The stores, which will feature third-party services including Shopify, BigCommerce and Woo, are designed to make the social network a convenient shopping destination.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said expanding e-commerce would be important to begin rebuilding the economy as the pandemic continues. Facebook is betting that bringing more local businesses online will help businesses and improve user loyalty on their social networks.

Facebook stores

Facebook announced a few hours ago the launch of Shops, a way for businesses to set up free stores on Facebook and Instagram

Stores will be free, and businesses will be able to buy ads for those stores. When people use Facebook’s payment option, they will be charged a fee.

Zuckerberg said stores will enhance the standard web commerce experience by storing users’ payment credentials in one place, which they can then use at any Facebook or Instagram store.

The stores can be found on companies’ Facebook Pages and Instagram Profiles, and can also be featured in stories or advertisements. Items that companies have made available for purchase will appear inside the store, and users can save them or place an order.

The management with the clients will be done through Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Eventually, the company plans to allow browsing the stores’ catalogues and making purchases directly from the chat window.

It is also working to integrate loyalty programs with stores so that users can easily view and track points and rewards.

The Facebook stores will start today in the United States and will arrive at Instagram sometime this summer.

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