Does the rise of social media shops mean the end of the e-commerce website?

Social media networks have come a long way in recent years. Take Facebook for example. Business owners will have used it to promote their business, meet new customers, and advertise to their audience. But launched in May of 2020, Facebook offers the ability to set up your own online store and sell through the platform. They call it Facebook Shops.

Screenshot of the Facebook Shops home page

For businesses already on Facebook, it’s a no-brainer. Your page is already running, you’ve started to build a community, and it’s just a case of listing your products and hey presto — you’re selling online! 

For Facebook themselves, it’s a masterstroke, as they’re creating yet another reason for users to spend more time on the platforms. Not to mention attracting new users too.

So do the likes of Facebook Shops and other social media stores mark the end of e-commerce websites as we know it? In my opinion no, not today. To delve into this a little deeper, let’s look at why Facebook Shops won’t replace online stores entirely, and how they can work together in perfect harmony.

Not everyone is a fan of social media

As the most popular social media network on the planet, plenty of people use Facebook. But not everyone. Some people have left, or lost interest like Generation Z. Others won’t join for a number of reasons. Some don’t do social media full stop. 

Chart showing the social media brands used by people aged 12-34 in 2015 and 2019, with Facebook dropping by half in those four years.
From The Infinite Dial 2019 by Edison Research

Many e-commerce websites let customers checkout as a guest, enabling them to control the level of personal information they share. The e-commerce shopping experience, therefore, remains attractive for those not wanting to hand over their payment details and shopping habits to a social network.

The Facebook experience is completely controlled by Facebook

One of the great things about running your own e-commerce website is that you have complete control over the look and feel of the website. You can control the colour, the theme, the size and location of product photos, the list goes on. Facebook has a very well designed interface, developed and improved over many years. But it’s also incredibly rigid. 

Screenshot of the Facebook login page.
What you see when you try to view a Facebook page without logging in.

Arguably, launching your own online business is just as much about brand building as it is selling things, so having a website that you can tailor to your exact needs will set you up for success in the long run. Also, another thing you can’t control on Facebook is adverts. Living alongside your own listings could be competing products from a rival seller, or just be a distraction when visitors browse your store. Of course, you can have advertising on your website too, but you’ll have much more control over what is shown and where adverts will appear. Or you can just opt to have no advertising and make it all about your brand!

Social media stores and e-commerce websites can (and should) coexist

Instead of focusing on Facebook as a primary source of business, instead, it should be viewed as a channel from which you can find new business. In other words, you build a website to sell your products and then use Facebook to promote what you do and generate sales.

A handy feature, when setting up your Facebook Shop, is the ability to send customers to your website to pay for a product they’ve selected in your shop (rather than handle the transaction within Facebook).

Screenshot of the checkout options in Facebook Shops, including Checkout on another website.

So this can give you the best of both worlds; you can use Facebook to showcase your products and satisfy the needs of that audience and send them to your website to make payment, to keep them happy. And for people that don’t like to use Facebook (or any social media network), your e-commerce website is online, ready and waiting for them!

Setting up a Facebook shop is easy thanks to this easy-to-follow setup guide. All you need to start is your Facebook page, some product shots and details to list. Finally, you’ll want corresponding product pages on your website to link to.

If you don’t yet have a website, setting up your own e-commerce store is relatively straightforward. In fact, Kate, our Marketing Director has written a blog about setting up your very own e-commerce store. Go check it out and get selling online!

(Featured image by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash.)