Online retailing is a crowded market, and now there’s more competition than ever. Although more business is being moved online, there are still ways that you can push your offering to the top of the ranks. As I mentioned in last month’s column, Facebook has recently introduced a new “Shops” feature across both Facebook and Instagram. Shops allows you to retail through your business page, removing the need to send customers through to another website - or having to try and sell via the Marketplace.
Facebook and Instagram Shops
The feature is customisable and you’re able to decide exactly what products you want to sell. The actual setup is fairly quick and painless, although you’ll have to upload your inventory and catalogue manually. There is integration with some e-commerce platforms though (such as Shopify and BigCommerce) to make things a little easier.
There are some immediate advantages to the Shops feature. By keeping people on the platform, you’re appealing to Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms, and it also reduces the drop-off rate when people have to click through to other websites. On Instagram, you’re able to tag your products in photos (as if they were Instagram accounts) making it easier for people to find them in your Shop.
In the future, the Shops feature will be rolled out across WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct as well. If you’re regularly in touch with clients through these formats, it could be a great way to remind them to re-stock products without hassle.
The reasons for Shops’ launch might be found in a July 2020 report by social media marketing tool SproutSocial, which showed that 91% of a brand’s social visitors would then visit that brand’s website - and 89% would buy from the brand. Obviously, Facebook and Instagram will be hoping to keep some of that traffic solely on their platforms; but it does go to show the importance of having a strong website if you’re hoping to retail too. For many clients, having a more “traditional” online shopfront is still more reassuring than social.
If you haven’t gone through your website’s offering recently, now is the time to give things a once over. Some easy wins revolve around your SEO: make sure all your products and images are labelled with correct titles. Use free tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to see if there are additional phrases or search terms that you could include to push your rankings up further.
With the customer journey in mind, make certain as well that any product you’re promoting on social media is also featured prominently on your website. An online retail experience should be as seamless as possible, without customers having to go through multiple links and redirects.