Internet Culture

Trying clothes online, virtual store attendants, Facebook plans to over overhaul eCommerce

June 25, 2021 · 3 min read
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On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Facebook announced interesting eCommerce updates coming to its products. The company disclosed this on its blog, Facebook Newsroom.

Stating that the COVID-19-induced lockdowns in 2020 made online shopping more appealing to people, Facebook wants to make shopping across its apps easier for users.

Statista showed a  rise in eCommerce sales in 2020, with global online sales increasing from $3.35 trillion in 2019 to $4.89 trillion in 2020. 

To take advantage of this unprecedented rise, the company rolled out Facebook Shops on May 19, 2020. Today, the social media giant claims 300 million people visit 1.2 million Shops monthly.

However, Facebook isn’t halting its eCommerce strides there. 

Augmented reality and artificial intelligence 

Image source: Facebook

The social media giant is investing heavily in augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to make the shopping experience realistic. 

Explaining, Facebook says, “we’re helping shoppers find new products, and with AR experiences, we’re helping people visualise items before they buy.” 

The social media platform believes that the shopping experience begins with visual discovery making these innovations logical.

AR is a visual technology that enables computer-generated imagery to interact with the real world through a camera. 

This could be a potential solution for the “what I ordered vs what I got” problem. TechCabal, reveals this to be one of the factors impeding eCommerce growth in Africa.  

With Facebook’s new product, shoppers can try on a dress in the comfort of their homes before making a purchase.

AI will also help shoppers discover new products based on what they like. Per Facebook, the technology would recommend similar products once a shopper taps on a product they want. 

The AI will act as a store attendant, giving shoppers more options based on what they like. And with a single tap, customers will get similar options.

While these new features will enhance the shopping experience, Facebook is now able to collect more data from users through their cameras and get more specific data on their preferences.

Also, Facebook Shops is coming to WhatsApp soon.

This new update means users can use the messaging app as an online store. 

Meanwhile, the new feature will not be available for Whatsapp users globally. However, while Facebook did not indicate which countries will enjoy these products, it said, “Soon, we’ll give businesses in select countries the option to showcase their Shop in WhatsApp.”

How will it work?

It is not clear how the new feature works on the messaging app.

On Instagram and Facebook, people can find Shops on a business page through ads or stories. A collection of the products the seller offers is displayed, and customers can then place an order. 

Although WhatsApp reportedly has 2 billion global users, reach is limited to people known personally. 

This could be a way the company is pushing revenue generation on the messaging app. In December 2020, WhatsApp gave an ultimatum for users to accept updated privacy policy. While the policy still stands, Facebook is not forcing users to accept it. 

This could be a subtle way to bring back the policy and introduce targeted ads on WhatsApp. 

Bolu Abiodun

Bolu Abiodun


He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.

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