Facebook "shop" sections will let you buy on-site

Facebook is rolling out "shop" sections on select merchants' pages that will allow customers to buy products directly on the site.  The news comes as tech companies ramp up efforts to get people to spend more time – and money – on their websites by letting them shop with just a swipe, tap, or click.

Dado Ruvic/Reuters/File
A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Dell laptop in this photo illustration. Facebook has launched a pilot program on businesses' Pages to feature shop sections for users to buy products without leaving the social media network.

Facebook doesn’t just want you to ‘like’ a Facebook Page; it wants you to shop there as well.

The social media website is rolling out a "shop" section that will allow users to purchase merchandise directly on businesses’ Facebook "Pages," according to BuzzFeed. The feature is still being tested,  but some Pages already have “buy” buttons for users to shop online without leaving Facebook. The news is the latest move among tech companies and social media networks vamping up efforts to get people to spend more time – and money – on their websites by letting them shop with just a swipe, tap, or click.

“With the shop section on the page, we’re now providing businesses with the ability to showcase their products directly on the page,” Facebook product marketing manager Emma Rodgers told BuzzFeed. Though she did not share the names of which businesses participating in the trial run, Rodger said the number of Facebook shops is currently in the double digits and will eventually expand.

In the past few years, Facebook has been dipping its toes into e-commerce. A year ago, Facebook announced it was testing a “buy” button on ads and Page posts on its desktop and mobile sites. In March, the company also authorized users to wire money to others through its Messenger app without additional fees.

It's not the only tech company jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon, however. Google announced Wednesday it will begin to test a “buy" button that will appear on mobile advertisements, The Christian Science Monitor previously reported. Snapchat teamed up with payments firm Square for its “Snapcash” feature, allowing users to send money to others, back in November. Other e-retailers, including Amazon and eBay, have simplified their websites to enable online shoppers to buy essential items with one click or tap.

People are spending more time on their mobile devices – Americans now spend nearly three hours each day on a smartphone or tablet, which is about 10 minutes more than they spend in front of a television. This makes it pretty clear to companies where they need to refocus their advertising and how to get integrate shopping into the mobile experience. Digital devices will have influenced $2.2 trillion worth of US retail sales by the end of 2015, according to the financial advisory firm Deloitte. In 2014, digitally-influenced store sales represented $1.7 trillion of total retail sales, and people who used social media while or before shopping have been found to be more likely to make purchases and buy more while in the store.

Online sales are still a relatively small portion of the overall retail market – they represented only $300 billion of all retail sales last year, which is less than a fifth of digitally-influenced sales. But its share is growing rapidly, and businesses, tech companies, and advertisers alike are well aware of the power smartphones and tablets can wield, especially when it comes to social media platforms. Right now, most businesses use Facebook Pages to promote their brands and engage with fans on social media.

“If Facebook can revitalize Pages and shift some of the attention (and traffic) from the newsfeed to them, then the company has the potential to neutralize companies like Yelp and FourSquare that have largely done a better job at crafting business landing pages for users to visit and quickly grab relevant info,” Lucas Matney wrote in TechCrunch.

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