Facebook Ventures Dangerously Close to the eCommerce World With New Shopping Feature

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applications conceptThe empire of Facebook is expanding yet again. This time, it’s attempting to bridge the gap between social media and eCommerce. Or, to use the words of WIRED, it’s another step in Facebook’s plan “to become the one and only place you spend your digital life.”

Facebook announced on Monday, Oct. 12 that it will be testing out a shopping feature in its mobile app over the next few weeks. In the company’s blog post, it explained that the Shopping news feed will be a “single place for people to more easily discover, share, and purchase products” — all while conveniently toggling back to view their friends’ status updates, of course.

The experimental version of Facebook’s Shopping section starts with onsite “immersive ads,” which allow merchants to post whole catalogs of items with Pinterest-style picture boards. Because the ads will be located right in the mobile app — meaning that users won’t be redirected to a mobile internet browser to view the catalogs — the ads will load quickly and will be optimized for mobile devices.

From the catalog pages, users will be given the option to go directly to a retailer’s website to make a purchase; payments won’t be made directly to Facebook, which means that the company is working with these online retailers instead of competing against them.

The tech giant has been experimenting with business partnerships through onsite ads, according to CNN, but the new feature will be geared toward bigger name brands with larger merchandise collections.

Facebook is the most widely used social media site today; add that to the fact that 80% of all internet users have made at least one online purchase before, and you’ve got a pretty good explanation for why Facebook is experimenting with eCommerce. In fact, Tech Crunch noted that, according to a previous Facebook survey, approximately 50% of all users log onto Facebook when looking for products.

It’s a fine line that Facebook is treading between the world of online shopping and social media usage, but if any company can do it, that company is probably Facebook.

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