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Facebook Launches New Shopping Hub

While retailers were busy attracting shoppers to their Columbus Day sales on Monday, Facebook was busy working to attract retailers, telling them why it’s the right platform for them to reach mobile shoppers.

Facebook is going well beyond offering merchants the Buy button, announcing some new initiatives, including a shopping hub.

Canvas: A New Native Way to Browse from Ads
Facebook wants brands and merchants to load mini versions of their websites right on Facebook in order to provide users with a fast-loading, full-screen experience “where they can browse through a variety of products, before going to the retailer’s website to purchase.”

“When people click on products from ads in their News Feed, the mobile websites they’re directed to often take a while to load and aren’t optimized, increasing the chance that people will drop off,” it explained.

The new ad experience is called Canvas, which Facebook has been testing since June, and is designed to help businesses drive any advertising objective, “from brand building to driving sales.”

Above: Facebook’s new ad program for retailers uses its Canvas technology.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, Facebook began testing Canvas ads in September with Michael Kors and Mr Porter, and said Target would be one of the merchants to begin testing the new product-focused experience unveiled Monday.

New Shopping Hub 
Facebook also announced a new shopping hub. Users are exposed to products in multiple areas of its site, including News Feed, Pages, and Groups, it explained. “In the coming weeks, we’ll begin testing a single place for people to more easily discover, share and purchase products.”

A small number of US businesses that are also testing the Shop section on Pages are participating in the test. And of great interest to small sellers, the company said it would explore adding items listed for sale in Facebook Groups and other additional content “into this experience.”

Facebook as a Shopping Destination
In a pretty startling statement, the company said nearly half of people come to Facebook to actively look for products, according to the results of a survey.

It’s unclear who has more to lose by Facebook ratcheting up its ecommerce initiatives – at first glance, one might think Amazon or eBay, but in reality, Facebook’s shopping initiatives more closely resemble Google Product Listing Ads. At the end of its post on Monday, it pointed merchants to Product Ads on Facebook to “learn more about how to get started promoting your products on Facebook today.”

And Monday’s full post is available on the Facebook for Business blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.