In May 2020, Facebook announced the rollout of Facebook Shops, an e-commerce option where businesses can post their products and sell directly through Facebook, with no external site or checkout. Facebook launched Shops with the goal of helping SMB’s survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what does this mean for digital marketing agencies?

While many small businesses will undoubtedly benefit from the ability to sell their products on Facebook for only minimal selling fees, digital marketing agencies that sell e-commerce services may suffer if their clients opt for Shops. And even more, it may hurt the client’s business in the long run, though they may not realize it.

Facebook Shops vs E-Commerce: What’s The Difference?

The key is to understand that while Shops is a useful tool for many, it has limitations. What sets a “true” e-commerce experience apart from Shops?

  1. Optimizing for search

SEO is a huge factor here. Conducting SEO on a Facebook Shop is impossible; there’s no meta data for products and, most importantly, no way to even appear on Google and other search engine searches. Your shop will exist solely on Facebook and/or Instagram. And unfortunately, nobody searches for something they need on Facebook or Instagram — they search on Google.

  1. Re-targeting

As Digital Marketing Institute says, “Retargeting is central to the success of any e-commerce site.” Facebook Shops may provide insights on customers, but you can’t conduct a retargeting campaign with email or ads on the site. You also can’t leverage things like wish lists and other features to bring customers back.

  1. User Experience

Although Facebook Shops will enable a more uniform and generally positive user experience for everyone who uses it, it can’t be customized. If you want to enhance, improve, or just change the experience a user has with that shop, you can’t.

  1. Brand

Facebook Shops also limits the look of your Shop, even if they allow you to easily add your logo and brand details. This will never be the same as creating a unique site from scratch or based on a template, and your client’s brand will not be as unique as it could appear.

How to Sell E-Commerce

So how can we convince our clients to opt for “traditional” e-commerce and build a site with SEO and more? Here are a few things to remind them:

You can still use Facebook Shops.

Facebook Shops can actually be an excellent addition to your e-commerce efforts, especially if you also run a Facebook Ads campaign. Opening up your options is always good, and combining Shops with your e-commerce website can be of great benefit. Also, Shops is working with e-commerce platforms like Shopify, so joining forces would be simple.

You need to be found on Google.

Stress the importance of being present on a search engine. Ask them where and how they search for a product or service when they need one. They will absolutely say Google. Remind them that if they are not appearing on Google searches, whether organically or in Shopping campaigns, their sales will suffer. Google is too key for their success to be neglected.

You have limited control.

Also remind them that when they’re building a brand, the way they present themselves is essential to a growing and loyal customer base. A business that only sells on Facebook and Instagram isn’t as trusted as a business with their own unique website, and is less visible online as well.

In conclusion…

At the end of the day, Facebook Shops is a net positive for businesses, but it’s important to use it correctly and intelligently, without losing sight of other digital marketing strategies and platforms that can drive sales and improve your brand. If you have the resources to build an e-commerce website, you should.

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