Facebook apps announce new shopping features

Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are set to introduce new shopping features, as the social media giants look to challenge Amazon’s retail dominance.

At Facebook’s F8 developer conference yesterday, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said changes to all three platforms will allow customers to browse, buy and organise delivery for items without ever leaving the apps.

Instagram, which has already been expanding its e-commerce capabilities over the past year, is due to introduce a feature which will allow users to instantly purchase items worn by a select group of influencers directly within the app.

“Instead of taking a screenshot or asking for product details in comments, you can simply tap to see exactly what your favorite creators are wearing and buy it on the spot,” a statement from Instagram explained.

Facebook’s shopping platform Marketplace will also allow users to purchase and ship items directly through the platform.

Previously Marketplace has been run as a classified ads service, allowing local users to advertise their goods for collection, but now people will be able to select which delivery companies they want to offer, as well as the cost.

Sellers will also be able to showcase their items via a live broadcast, and directly interact with potential customers.

Meanwhile, the roll-out of WhatsApp Business will bring product catalogues to support smaller businesses which may not have a website, but are using the messaging platform to communicate with customers.

Perran Jervis, head of retail and consumer goods at law firm TLT, noted that while retailers will no doubt embrace this 'super-omnichannel' environment, their logistics networks may be unable to cope with the related spike in demand.

"According to our survey of the UK's top 100 retailers, rapid delivery is now a key deciding factor for consumers with 83 per cent of retailers planning to offer next day delivery or faster in the future and 29 per cent aiming for same day delivery.

"Social media buying is likely to increase the number of smaller purchases people make, increasing pressure on logistics and delivery performance further still - this will also increase the rate of returns – already 27 per cent on average for the UK's top 100 retailers," he added.

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