Facebook has announced three more updates designed to advance its aggressive, ongoing push into ecommerce.
The initiatives include launching its Shops on WhatsApp, bowing Shops Ads, and preparing to test AI-driven visual search for shopping on Instagram.
They were outlined on Tuesday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a Live Audio Room livestream and posts on Facebook and the company’s blog.
WhatsApp is being functionally linked to Facebook’s other ecommerce offerings, Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shops.
“Today, we have over 300 million monthly Shops visitors and over 1.2 million monthly active Shops,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Now, we’re making it even easier for people to discover and buy from Shops. Soon, we’ll give businesses in select countries the option to showcase their Shop in WhatsApp. In the U.S., we’ll enable them to bring Shops products into Marketplace, helping them reach the more than 1 billion people globally who visit each month.
“Soon you’ll be able to view a Shop in WhatsApp so you can chat with a business before buying something,” he posted. “Businesses only need to set up their shop once to have it work across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.”
The WhatsApp Shops rollout will start soon, he said. Shops inventory in Marketplace is available now for Shops in the U.S. that have on-site checkout.
Shops Ads are meant to enable a more personalized shopping experience, based on shopping preferences data.
“For example, we’re testing the ability for businesses to send shoppers to where they are most likely to make a purchase based on their shopping behavior, such as curated products that you might be interested in from a Shop or a business’ website,” Zuckerberg said. “In the future, we’ll explore ways to help brands further personalize their Shops ads by providing special offers or promotions to select shoppers.”
AR Dynamic Ads are now available in the U.S., with companies including Huda Beauty and Laura Mercier using them to let customers test lipstick shades with AR before buying, notes TechCrunch.
Instagram’s AI-based visual search feature will begin testing in coming months.
“Visual search helps people find similar products – like floral print dresses – just by tapping on an image of a dress they like,” wrote Zuckerberg. “In the future we’ll make it possible for people to take photos from their camera to start a visual search. While it’s still early, we think visual search will enhance mobile shopping by making even more pieces of media on Instagram shoppable.”
"Two-thirds of online shoppers say that they want to virtually try on products from the comfort of their home, he added. “To help shoppers get a better feel for the fit of a product before they purchase, we’re making it easier for brands to create AR try-on experiences in Shops through new API integrations with Modiface and Perfect Corp. We’re also introducing new tools for brands to include AR product catalogs in ads that will automatically show relevant products to people based on their interests."
“We’re also bringing some of the biggest brands together to experiment with Live Shopping on Facebook and bringing this personalized shopping experience to viewers through Live Shopping Fridays.”