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Facebook’s Shops give small businesses an Etsy-like place to sell goods online

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Facebook Shops, a tool that lets small business owners set up an online storefront for free.

Zuckerberg said Tuesday that businesses could set up a Facebook Shop for free — a shot across the bow for competitors like Etsy.

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The Shops will look and feel like a Facebook page where business owners can easily list their items. Customers will be able to make a purchase directly through Facebook Shops, and Zuckerberg said that Facebook would not share what you buy with friends or anyone else without your permission.

Facebook Shops rolls out on Tuesday and will include features such as live shopping (where customers can shop products during a Facebook Live) and loyalty programs to shops customers frequent the most. 

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“We want to give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying. And we want to help small businesses adapt and make it easier for people to discover and shop for things they love,” Zuckerberg said. 

A great feature customers will be able to use with Facebook Shops will be Facebook’s augmented reality technology to purchase products. If a customer is looking at beauty products or home decor, they could virtually see a preview of how that product would look on themselves or in their home.

Zuckerberg also talked about Instagram Shop, which will debut this summer. Similar to Facebook Shops, people can use the Instagram Explore feature to browse and purchase items all in one place.

Facebook Shops will also allow people to contact a shop directly through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct, and in the future, even make purchases through these message apps. 

Facebook will be working with online shopping partners such as Shopify and Channel Advisor to help people start and grow their own Facebook Shops as a small business. 

No selling fee would be charged for Shops purchases made from the business’ website and there’s no listing fee. But any purchases made natively through Facebook Shops would be subject to a fee, Facebook confirmed.

Etsy charges businesses a fixed amount to post a listing as well as a transaction fee for any items purchased.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook Shops would bring small businesses struggling with closed stores due to the coronavirus an opportunity to thrive online.

In March, the company announced an investment of $100 million toward small businesses to help them through the financial struggles of the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook said it would give financial support to 30,000 small businesses in 30 countries in the form of cash grants, as well as free ad credits.

The tech giant previously announced shopping features that allowed businesses to sell items and services directly through their pages at no extra cost, as well as the implementation of a dedicated shopping feed.

With the addition of Facebook Shops, it looks like the social media network is looking to literally become a one-stop-shop for almost all online activities.

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