In the bid to make social commerce more accessible, Facebook is expanding its Shops feature to WhatsApp, the social network announced on Tuesday. The platform is also expanding its ratings and reviews functions to Shops on Instagram over the next few months.
WhatsApp merchants in the U.S. will be able to integrate their Shops products into the Marketplace, the company said. The platform also said it would introduce ad tools to help businesses showcase ads tailored to shoppers' preferences and will soon allow merchants to offer personalized promotions to select consumers.
At the same time, Facebook announced it would add AR try-on features to Instagram through new API integrations with Modiface and Perfect Corp and begin testing a new artificial intelligence-based visual search tool.
Facebook is taking steps to grow its social commerce offerings further by expanding Shops and experimenting with AR and AI tools on Instagram.
The social platform's Shops feature currently has more than 1.2 million monthly active users and more than 300 million monthly Shops visitors, according to the company. Expanding to WhatsApp will increase the reach of its Shops tool, and the company is waiving fees for business sellers through June 2022 to support economic recovery. Though WhatsApp users in the U.S. can soon use the tool, the company didn't share which other countries will be able to access the Shops feature.
Instagram is also getting some upgrades to its own shopping experience via new visual discovery tools. Facebook said it is introducing tools that allow brands to create AR product catalogs within ads that will automatically display relevant products to shoppers based on their interests. In the future, Instagram shoppers will also be able to start a visual search through their own photos. AR try-on experiences in Instagram will be thanks to partnerships with Modiface and Perfect Corp., a similar tactic to companies like Google and Snapchat that have partnered with Perfect Corp. for its augmented reality tools.
Facebook's new social commerce features follow earlier moves the company has made, along with its competitors, to create commerce tools that blend shopping with the social media browsing experience. Back in December, Instagram unveiled its Shopping in Reels feature, which lets sellers and creators tag products for sale when making Reels on the app. Pinterest also debuted its shop tab earlier that year to let consumers browse in-stock items using the app's search function or other users' boards.
As tech companies invest more into in-app shopping features, more consumers seem to be open to making purchases via social media.
Per a 2020 report from Poshmark, 58% of consumers were fine with purchasing items through social media platforms instead of a company's website. Similarly, a recent NPD survey found that more than half of survey respondents bought items after viewing content on their Facebook and Instagram feeds. Facebook was the top platform where shoppers discovered and learned about products on social media, followed by Instagram and Pinterest.