Facebook has launched ecommerce tool Facebook Shop in the UK and Canada, the social media giant’s latest move into the online shopping market.

From today, UK Facebook users will see the new ‘Shop’ feature in the Facebook menu bar on desktop or the mobile app. It gives businesses the option to create a free storefront of collections, products and posts from within Facebook’s ecosystem.

It follows the launch of Facebook Shops last year, which allowed businesses to start curating collections of products on their own page. The main difference now is that clicking the Shop tab will enter a digital marketplace displaying products from a range of different businesses, as opposed to having to visit businesses’ storefronts individually.

The move has been described as Facebook’s attempt to take on ecommerce players such as Amazon and eBay. Facebook, however, is positioning the tool as a way for businesses struggling due to the pandemic to create an off-the-shelf ecommerce presence.

Facebook Shops also fulfils a key milestone in chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s aim for Facebook to emulate WeChat, the Chinese all-in-one app where you can stay in touch with friends, order a taxi and purchase goods.

With Facebook offering the tool for free to businesses it is not a direct revenue driver. Instead, the feature means shoppers can remain within Facebook’s ecosystem for longer, completing purchases in Instagram Shopping and asking customer service questions via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

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By GlobalData

The more time that people spend within its family of apps, the more money Facebook can make from advertising.

Other new Shops tools rolled out today include new design layouts, real-time collection previews, automated shop creation for new sellers and analytics insights in Commerce Manager.

Steve Hatch, VP for Northern Europe at Facebook, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the shift to online shopping has rapidly accelerated, with an estimated 85% of people worldwide now shopping online. We’ve been doing a huge amount this year to ensure small businesses in particular can successfully pivot their businesses to online and protect jobs. Through tools like Shops we’re helping empower anyone, from an entrepreneur to the largest brand, to use our apps to connect with customers and grow their business.”

Last year furniture store MADE and Jewellery by Nasira were among the early adopters who set created a platform on Facebook Shop.

Nasira Kasmani, owner of Jewellery By Nasira, said: “Due to the pandemic and lockdown, I have had to rethink my business strategy and offering. In-person styling consultations became virtual, my shop on Facebook and Instagram became vital in the exposure of the business, and live videos on these platforms became a pivotal part of the business.”

Away from ecommerce, Facebook today reversed its ban on Australian news pages after facing widespread criticism.

Read more: Facebook Shops won’t rival Amazon – it has a more important purpose