In an effort to move further into e-commerce and compete with Amazon Inc’s (AMZN.O) retail offerings, Facebook announced Monday it is testing several ad features that allow users to shop directly through its app.
Few users make purchases on mobile phones because it is slow and cumbersome, but Facebook hopes to win over more ad dollars by smoothing the process. Mobile purchases make up less than 2 percent of all retail sales, according to research firm eMarketer.
“We’re looking to give people an easier way to find products that will be interesting to them on mobile, make shopping easier and help businesses drive sales,” said Emma Rodgers, Facebook’s head of product marketing for commerce.
Among the new features are ads that take a user through a specific brand’s products without redirecting them to another site. For example, a user who clicks on an ad from a boutique could see an expanded page that displays numerous clothing items.
Businesses on Facebook will also be able to display products for purchase directly on their own pages. And users will be able to purchase products directly on Facebook through a “buy now” button that will be more widely available.
The 1.5-billion-member social network has also added a new section on its app that takes users directly to a shopping page where they can browse among numerous brands from a select group of small businesses that will gradually expand.
“From Facebook’s perspective, they’re addressing a pain point for retailers,” said Catherine Boyle, an analyst at eMarketer. “They will attract serious ad dollars with this offering.”