How to prepare your business for Instagram and Facebook Shops

If you read this blog regularly then you know all about how businesses can benefit from Instagram and Facebook Shops functionality. But with the global roll-out of these shops taking place throughout late Summer and Autumn, it's important to factor social commerce into your plans for the 2020 holiday period and beyond.

Businesses are able to prepare by looking at the functionality of Facebook Catalogue Manager and Facebook Commerce Manager. Key decisions to make will include whether you intend for customers to purchase within the social networks or via your website, and how you will import your product inventory.

Facebook allows you to create a test shop which can help you try out Commerce Manager, test the customer buying experience, and experiment with the Facebook commerce APIs. This doesn’t require any banking, tax or payment details to set up, so you can get started immediately, but it’s important to note that test accounts can’t be converted to a regular account in the future.

Optimising product data is enormously important for eCommerce websites and successful Shopping Ads on Google campaigns. It’s likely to be just as crucial for social commerce to ensure you’re supplying the correct information to meet both the technical specifications, and potentially adjusting it to target relevant customers more effectively. 

This means there may be an advantage for businesses using a data feed rather enabling automatic importing and updating via the Facebook Pixel, which is the basis for integration with all the big eCommerce platforms. Experience with Shopping Ads on Google will also help to ensure the correct categorisation for maximum exposure and sales, especially as Facebook Checkout for direct purchases within the social networks requires data feeds to include the google_product_category field.

It’s also important to set up the connections between the catalogue and commerce management, and a Facebook Business Manager account to ensure you can set up or adapt your advertising to promote your new Instagram and Facebook Shops.

Facebook Shops Business Preparation Checklist

It’s now vital to integrate Instagram and Facebook shops into your existing eCommerce marketing and advertising strategies, especially for planning activity during the 2020 holiday season.

The new social commerce opportunities will be key for retailers who are producing live streaming video content or will be collaborating with influencers and creators. But with any new or changing platform, it’s important to prepare and test as early in the process as possible.

Some businesses with existing Facebook Stores will be automatically migrated to the new Facebook Shops. For any retailer starting out, there are steps you can be taking before gaining full access. 

  • You’ll need to be signed up for Facebook Commerce Manager to set up your shops. Inventory is uploaded and maintained through Facebook Catalogue Manager.  
  • To enable purchases within each social network requires Facebook Checkout, and linking a new or existing Facebook Business Manager account is needed to use advertising tools including retargeting.
  • You will need to decide how your product data will be imported, which can be handled automatically via Facebook Pixel-based integrations with eCommerce platforms including Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento and OpenCart. Or by using a product data feed which meets the specifications for Facebook Catalogues.
  • You’ll now be able to create collections of 6-30 products to help customers find related items, customise the design of your shops, and be ready to click publish on your shop, at which point Facebook will review and approve your collections, typically within 24 hours. Collections need a name, optional description, and a cover image of at least 800 x 600 pixels.
  • Design options include prioritising collections, text size, and the colour of your buttons and accents. 
  • It’s also possible to create a test account and shop, allowing you to try out product data imports, design options, the commerce APIs and the customer buying experience. But you can’t then convert a test account and shop into a real, working example in the future.

The quicker you’re able to effectively integrate the strategic and practical requirements of Instagram and Facebook shops into your eCommerce activities, the better you’ll be positioned as a retailer to take advantage of the publicity as customers become aware of it, and the retail sales that it could deliver.

Even if you’re not ready to launch your new Instagram and Facebook Shops quite yet, it will be worth exploring the current options via a test account, setting up the required accounts and linking them, and being ready to take advantage of initial publicity and interest from UK customers when purchasing within social networks becomes more widely available.

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