03 Jun Latest news, analysis and data on online & offline retail
Facebook moves into e-commerce with the launch of “Facebook Shops”
In the context of post-lockdown recovery, Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of “Facebook Shops”, a new free e-commerce feature that allows retailers of all sizes to create online stores on Facebook and Instagram. With nearly 160 million companies worldwide using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger, the American firm wants to become a leading platform for e-commerce.
This new feature allows retailers to create a personalised online store by uploading their product catalogue in a tab directly accessible from Facebook and Instagram and in a few weeks on Messenger and WhatsApp. Like Instagram, users will be able to pay for their purchases from the “Shops” section with a “Checkout” button (only available in the US). The objective is to reduce customer frictions during the online journey, such as being redirected to a non-responsive website that impacts the customer experience.
Based on the Chinese application WeChat, “Shops” represents a new step in the transformation of the social network into a “super app”. Indeed, this new feature will be compatible with the whole application ecosystem of the group. Users will be able to request help from a salesperson via WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram to track their deliveries or receive assistance throughout the purchasing process. Over time, users will also be able to access a retailer’s store and purchase directly from the application chat.
As a first phase, the “Facebook Shops” are being launched in the US and will arrive in Europe in the coming months.
Co-op expands delivery robot roll-out
The convenience retailer led the first trial of same-day autonomous robot deliveries in the UK by partnering with Starship Technologies in April 2018 to launch an emission-free online home delivery service.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, Co-op has over doubled the number of customers using robotic deliveries, with the value of transactions quadrupling as shopping habits change. Since March, the service has been introduced in six new Co-op stores, with delivery charges of up to £2.49 waived for NHS staff.
To use this new service, customers place their order on the Starship application, which is sent to the staff at the nearest Co-op store. They then pick it up and pack it. Co-op has also increased the range available through robot delivery, as shoppers can choose from over 1,000 products, from everyday essentials to family favourites.
At the beginning of the year, Co-op announced its same-day online delivery offering, including partnerships with Deliveroo, Buymie (in Bristol) and, its dedicated online store (coop.co.uk/shop). It envisages such services to be available in 650 of its stores across the UK by the end of 2020.
Shopify announces major product launches to support its merchants through this crisis
Shopify, one of the world’s leading e-commerce companies, announced several new products and features at Reunite, a virtual conference for the one million merchants using the company’s e-commerce platform.
The additions include Shopify Balance, which is a merchant bank account with no fees and no minimum balance. It will enable merchants to deposit money from Shopify sales. The Balance account will have its debit card, offering cashback and discounts on business expenses such as shipping and marketing.
Besides, Shopify is also announcing a “Buy Now, Pay Later” feature that allows merchants to offer to their customers the option to split their payments into four equal instalments, with no interest or additional fees.
Some other new features include a Local Delivery option, which allows merchants to design a distinct delivery experience for local customers. The company is also opening its robotic fulfilment network to merchants and introducing the possibility to collect tips at the checkout.
Following Facebook’s announcement of “Facebook Shops”, merchants will be able to manage their Facebook and Instagram storefronts from the Shopify platform.
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