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Facebook is moving closer to being a shopping platform. Its latest move, headed up by Zuckerberg himself, is to create a shop tab that can be used within the Facebook app

Facebook has yet again moved closer to becoming a shopping and retail hub. It has just released a special ‘shop’ tab in its app, allowing users to buy something from within the app, and very quickly at that.

The initiative is still being tested in the US, but it’s an almost definite feature within the Facebook app for the future. The move is yet more evidence than Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg in particular, fully believes that e-commerce is the pace to be in the years ahead.

The product Shops was released earlier this year as part of an update. This was spearheaded by Zuckerberg himself, who is a self-confessed fan of the idea of quick, mobile shopping. Retailers were given the ability to upload product catalogues to their Facebook page, or to have a link on the page to their product catalogue. All of this can be done without visiting an external website. The new Shop tab seems to be an obvious extension of this.

It’s difficult to exaggerate the personal nature of this project for Zuckerberg. He allegedly spent many, many hours working on the earlier update himself. The whole point is that Zuckerberg wants the ecommerce business to have complete freedom, and essentially set up shops in Facebook itself.

This sounds like a great thing to do. It seems especially positive after the COVID-19 epidemic raged across the planet, effectively closing all shops, some of them for good. Having the option to literally set up your store on the Facebook app and have an instant click access to your product catalogue not only allows for more sales, but a wider customer base.

Why is he doing it?

We would be remiss if we didn’t take a look at some of the other reasons why Zuckerberg spent so much time and energy on the project. The new Shop tab makes shopping as easy as it could possibly be. Facebook users are going to be very receptive. And right now it’s all for free.

This may not be the case for long. While no one can doubt Zuckerberg’s aim of helping businesses stay open with the tab, he is a highly-skilled and visionary businessman. It’s hard to see Facebook allowing businesses to run stores in the app without having to pay for it in some way. The advertising potential alone is more than enough to make this a potentially lucrative goldmine for Facebook in the months ahead.

It is hard to see how this will work though. Would retailers pay for the opportunity to have their Shop tab displayed in the app? Possibly, as long as there is a clear ROI involved. Another option is to have retailers pay for customers making actual purchases via the tab. We think that, as retailers see sales rise through a free period of using the feature they will be more than happy to pay Facebook something for using the Shop tab.

However, Zuckerberg has hinted at what he thinks will happen in the past. He has consistently agreed that the Facebook experience survives on ads. He has not hidden from this fact. In recent times he has spoken about how he wants the shopping experience of Facebook to be about ads. As people start using Shops and the new tab (when it is fully rolled out), he is confident that retailers will pay more for ads to bring even more value to their ROI.

Whatever happens, it is certain that, with Zuckerberg heavily involved, shopping on Facebook is going to be huge.

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