Facebook and Instagram launch 'virtual shops' where you can buy almost anything

FACEBOOK is launching "virtual shops" where you can buy almost anything.

Real retailers set up their own Facebook Shops, and users can buy directly through the app.

It's in contrast to Facebook Marketplace, which works more like classified ads between regular users.

The Facebook Shops will be backed by proper sellers who can flog their entire catalogue of goods through the app.

"We want to give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying," Facebook explained.

"And we want to help small businesses adapt and make it easier for people to discover and shop for things they love."

You can find a Facebook Shop on a business page on both Facebook and Instagram.

Alternatively, you can discover them through a Story, or an ad.

Once you're in, you can browse the Facebook Shop's full collection, save products and even place an order.

In the US, you'll be able to check out directly inside the app – but elsewhere you'll be redirected to the seller's own website.

Sellers will be able to tag products from their Facebook Shop in a Story or live video, which can then be purchased in-app.

Facebook Shops – how will it change in the future

Facebook says the following changes are coming too..

  • Sellers will soon by able to tag products from their Facebook Shop before going "live" on Instagram
  • Facebook is testing ways to let you earn rewards with businesses through loyalty programs
  • In the future, you'll be able to view a shop – and even make purchases – within a WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct chat
  • Instagram Shop will be US-only initially, but will roll out more widely later on
  • Later this year, an Instagram Shop tab will appear in the navigation bar, so you can go shopping with a single tap

Businesses can create their own Facebook Shop completely free of charge.

And the virtual shopfronts are customisable with cover images and colour accents.

Customers can chat to Facebook Shop sellers through Messenger, Instagram Direct or WhatsApp.

This means you can ask the seller questions, track deliveries and get general customer support all within the app.

Facebook says that it's rolling out Facebook Shops from today.

And it'll be more widely available "in the coming months", the firm revealed.

In other news, follow our guide on how to make Facebook Avatars that you can model after yourself.

A recent surge in users means that 2.6billion people now log onto Facebook every single month.

And a controversial new Facebook design is rolling out to everyone.

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