Reports suggest that Facebook is testing a new way to shop on the platform by combining the use of Live Video and Messenger.
Details and Implications:
First highlighted by social media and reputation management specialist Jeff Higgins, the new shopping feature is being tested in Thailand.
It works by allowing merchants to notify their followers that they are broadcasting using Live Video. Viewers can then screenshot products that are being demonstrated and that screen shot can then be sent to the merchant through Messenger, with the merchant then able to request payment through Messenger. Facebook currently doesn’t take a cut of the transactions.
Following the reports, Facebook has confirmed that the test was being held with a limited number of Pages in Thailand. The initial results suggest that the feature has helped merchants to better demonstrate how products can be used and is a better medium than just using photography. The feature also helps as a way for customers to ask and get answered questions about products, meaning that there is an increased chance of them moving to purchase.
Facebook has previously used Thailand as a beta test ground for services including home rentals in Marketplace as Thailand has one of Facebook’s most active Marketplace communities. Whilst Facebook has not said that it is expanding the trial for now, it did say that it was building a waitlist of merchants and was also taking feedback from those on the trial to improve the service.
The trial ticks a number of boxes for Facebook.
First it helps to improve the platform as a retail environment, an important step in its growth.
Secondly, it gets user to watch more video, which in itself will open up more opportunity for TV style advertising and help attract some of those TV dollars to the platform.
Thirdly, it strengthens further the Marketplace proposition, which is in competition with platforms including eBay and Craigslist.
Lastly, as Amazon pairs its Echo Show with Alexa to encourage people to buy more through the home devices by giving them a richer and more visual experience, this could be a step towards Facebook finding ways to make its own home device ‘Portal’ a more engaging device for shopping – which could be a potentially huge revenue stream.