How To Set Up An Online Store On Facebook

If you run a business, you probably already know the importance of having a presence on Facebook. Though it may seem like the grizzled veteran of social media networks, it is still by far the largest social channel, with the most active users, the highest engagement, the longest average time per session, and so on…

Facebook is a great place to market, a great place to engage with your target audience, a great place to post content and a great place to provide customer service. But recently, Facebook has also become a great place to sell. And I don’t mean just advertising or directing people back to your separate, dedicated e-commerce site (though you can still do that, too). Last year, Facebook began rolling out a “shop” feature on their Facebook Pages (these being the pages for businesses and organizations, distinct from profiles for personal accounts). Since “shop” is now one of the many tabs available as part of a Facebook page, that means Facebook has itself become something of an e-commerce platform. You can post products, promote them, accept payments, and customers can have their entire shopping experience while they browse Facebook, without ever leaving the site.

Why Sell On Facebook?

Okay, so you can set up a shop on Facebook. But before we jump into how, let’s start with a more basic question. Is this even a good idea? Why sell on Facebook as opposed to (or in our opinion, in addition) any other e-commerce platform? Well for starters, let’s review some of those numbers we mentioned above. According to data released by Facebook, 1.18 billion people (BILLION! With a B!) log onto Facebook every single day. The average time spent on Facebook is 20 minutes per visit. Of all internet page views in the U.S., 1 in 5 occurs on Facebook.

Just let those numbers wash over you for a minute. That is a tremendous market.

But what about e-commerce specifically? Does all that social activity translate?

Absolutely. According to AdWeek Facebook is responsible for driving roughly 60% of social traffic to retail sites. And on Facebook itself, e-commerce is one of the top reasons for engagement with pages, with 42% of fans saying that they will like a page in order to get a coupon or a discount. Mobile is also a huge part of the equation, and likely to be an even bigger factor moving forward. This year, 79.5 million US internet users are expected to purchase goods or services using a mobile device at least once, which will account for 26% of US retail e-commerce.

How Do I Sell On Facebook?

All right. You’re convinced this is a good idea. So how do you get started?

Fortunately, Facebook makes the process of creating a shop on your page pretty straightforward. Just go to your page settings and add a “shop section.” You’ll get a pop-up asking if you want to add a shop, confirm that you do. You’ll then have to click through some policies and terms, and before you know it, you’ll be entering your business information. You need to put in a business address and email address for legal reasons. It will also give you the opportunity to use that business email address for customer service inquiries, which is a good idea.

As of this writing, Facebook allows you to accept payments through Stripe and PayPal. While having only those two options is a bit limiting, they are both solid options and two of the more popular payment gateways for ecommerce, so your customers should hopefully feel comfortable with either. If you already have a Stripe or PayPal account, you can connect your existing accounts.

Another new-ish feature for Facebook pages is their various layout templates for how to order the different sections of your page. One such template is called "shopping," and gives an e-commerce friendly layout to your page. You can, however, reorder any of your page sections in any arrangement you choose no matter what template you start with.

Once you have your shop set up, you can then begin to add products. Again, Facebook makes this process pretty basic and straightforward, giving you the ability to control images, name, price, description, inventory, certain variants, and shipping information.

Pro Tip: Facebook gives you one call-to-action button at the top of your page. You can set/change this button to take people straight to your shop.

What If I Already Have An Online Store? Isn’t There An Easier Way?

So glad you asked. Yes. There is a much easier way.

If you’re selling on a platform like Etsy or Amazon, there are several third-party apps that can link your existing store to your Facebook store. But by far the most super-duper easy solution, and our favorite, is Shopify.

Shopify makes it ridiculously easy to import and sync your existing e-commerce store (as long as it’s on Shopify) with Facebook. You simply install the Facebook app on Shopify, link your accounts, tell it what products you want to sync… and that’s it. There is also an approval process so that Facebook can make sure you are legit, but they usually give approval within a few hours.

One of the challenges with Facebook as a dedicated e-commerce platform is that it leaves things like communication, inventory management and fulfillment to you without much assistance or opportunity for automation, if any. Shopify gives you far more flexibility when dealing with the day-to-day necessities of running an e-commerce store, and lets you do it from a central location. Not only that, but with Shopify you get the benefit of that platform’s hundreds of apps to extend the functionality of your store and suit your specific business.

Another Pro Tip: Your Facebook store will by default display the image associated with your first variant on Shopify, so make sure you re-order your variants to put the best picture first on Facebook.

There is a lot to think about when starting and running a business. We get it! Need help with your social media strategy, ecommerce marketing tactics, or overall business plan? Contact 10twelve today to discuss a marketing strategy that makes sense for you.