Facebook is testing new features for mobile shopping

By Money Times

Oct 14, 2015 08:53 AM EDT

Facebook may soon be your go-to app for shopping.

The company disclosed Monday that it was testing new features that would enable users to buy products, without having to leave the app.

Among these is a "Shopping" bookmark, which will serve as a repository of information about products from business pages that a user has liked. Found under the "More" tab, the bookmark will first appear on the pages of a number of Facebook users in the United States.

Another feature, whose testing began last summer, is the "Buy Now" button. This will appear on pages of businesses on Facebook. The social network is working on this feature with e-commerce service Shopify, which will process payments and track transactions.

"Our goal is to make it easy to sell products where the customers are, and increasingly that's on mobile," Shopify director of product, Satish Kanwar told Reuters.

Facebook is also expanding its ad format called Canvas. This feature provides users with a full-screen experience.

Upon clicking on a Canvas ad on their News Feed, users will immediately see a range of products to choose from, before being led to the retailer's website for purchase. Among the retailers who have tested this feature are Michael Kors and Mr Porter.

Target, which has seen a rise in customers turning to Facebook for inspiration, will likewise test the social network's new offerings. "Facebook's new shopping bookmark allows us to meet that need, providing a seamless bridge between inspiration and purchase," Target senior director of social mediaColleen McDuffe told Women's Wear Daily (WWD).

That's the same trend Facebook is seeing, which is why it is moving towards digital shopping. By turning Facebook into a "mobile hub" for consumers, the company hopes to draw more advertisers.

"The more services Facebook is successfully able to offer consumers via their mobile app, the bigger the role they'll play in consumers' everyday lives," eMarketer senior analyst Catherine Boyle told WWD, "which leads to more revenue-generating opportunities for Facebook in the long-term."

Based on research, mobile purchases account for 2% of all retail sales. That is expected to grow in double digits over the next few years.

Currently, mobile users spend most of their time on a number of apps, most notably Facebook. But because they are slow and cumbersome, only a few make purchases using their phones. Facebook wants to change that. "We're trying to make that experience better and in turn drive more sales to retailers," Matt Idema, Facebook's vice president of monetization product marketing, told WWD.

Facebook is not the only social network entering the e-commerce domain. Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram also now have buttons that allow for easy purchases.

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