Facebook just made it way easier to spend your money on Instagram.
On Tuesday, Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced that it launched Facebook Shops. They’re online shops that live directly on Facebook and Instagram. A limited number of shops are now live, with the product rolling out more widely soon.
When you come across a brand or product you like in the app, you can enter the store’s “online shop” to browse all of its wares. The stores have customization options so businesses can create the branded look and feel that they want. And if the brand has enabled checkout, you can pay for your item right through Facebook or Instagram.
Click-happy consumers will also be able to view product collections and other shopping content in the Instagram Shop portal. Facebook plans to put a new “Shopping” tab in the navigation bar at the bottom of the app.
Facebook is positioning the move as a way to help small businesses that are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. That may be true, but it also serves as a way to keep businesses and shoppers in the Facebook ecosystem for longer, keeping eyeballs and ad dollars right where Mark Zuckerberg wants them.
Chat integrations also play a big role in the product rollout. From Facebook Shops, customers can message businesses through Messenger, Instagram DMs, or Facebook-owned WhatsApp. The ability to buy stuff directly in a chat is coming soon.
Another announcement concerned live videos, which have been popping off in the coronavirus era. When businesses initiate a livestream, they’ll be able to select a shop or product that they can link to within the live video. An icon with a link to the product or shop will stay on the screen throughout the stream.
Shopping online is one of the few joys still afforded to us in coronavirus times. Whether anyone will have any money to actually buy things as this pandemic stretches on is another story.