Social commerce finally comes to Facebook, as the social media giant launches a new e-commerce feature called Shops for its suite of social media apps.
The link to digital wellbeing might appear tenuous, but did you know that shopping can improve psychological wellbeing? Yes, retail therapy works – a little shopping can both reduce negative mood, and enhance positive mood. In fact, frequent shopping is linked to increased life expectancy.
And critically for Facebook Shops, one of the key reasons retail therapy works is that shopping is that it is a social experience. So, if Facebook’s new Shops feature makes online shopping a more social experience, then it could contribute to the wellbeing of its users.
Available first in Instagram and Facebook apps, Shops provides in-app storefront that will allow users to browse, save, order and (in the US) buy products from within the app. It’s similar to the ‘Checkout on Instagram‘ feature trialled last year. For those shopping from outside the US, the Shops function allows users to checkout on an external website.
After testing, the Shops functionality will be extended to allow customers to shop and checkout within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct.
It’s simple, basic and free (although for in-app checkouts there appears to be a 5% fee or $0.40 for transactions under $8)- and something that Facebook has been promising to offer for many years… Whilst popular in Asia, social commerce has had a number of false dawns in the West. Will Shops change this?
Having tracked the development of social commerce for over a decade, and written two books on the subject, my view is that the success of Shops will depend on whether big advertisers choose to integrate Shops into their social media ad campaigns. By adopting Shops to measure and monetise social media advertising, major brands and retailers will shift norms, trends and behaviour.