Retail

Facebook’s Small-Business Features Help Shops Survive COVID-19

Facebook adds features to help small businesses boost business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Taylor Walston

Facebook recently debuted its “Facebook Shops” feature to provide small businesses a platform for selling products online, with or without their own website.

Facebook also launched “Messenger Rooms,” a feature that lets businesses charge users to view livestream videos, even if the “attendee” lacks a Facebook account. The platforms are free, and businesses fully control when and how long they use them.

Facebook Shops

Facebook Shops is a virtual storefront where businesses can advertise and sell products through their Facebook page. The feature operates similarly to Etsy. That is, businesses upload their products, set shipping prices, specify delivery dates, and organize products by category. The platform asks businesses to link their bank-account information so money from purchases goes straight to the account.

Facebook doesn’t require a monthly subscription, but it deducts 5% from each purchase as its commission. You can set specific sizes, colors and availability. Facebook Shops makes it easier for a store’s Facebook followers to act on their desires to buy products. If customers see something they like on your Facebook feed, they can visit the Facebook Shop and order it.

You can offer virtual classes for a fee through Facebook Messenger Rooms. Photo Credit: About Facebook

Messenger Rooms

Messenger Rooms lets businesses charge for access to online classes, but “attendees” don’t need a Facebook account to view Messenger Room events. Anyone can pay to view your class. Virtual classes might attract more attendees than do regular lessons because they’re accessible to current and potential customers. Online classes attract aspiring archers who can’t attend lessons at the shop.

Facebook consults with 60 small businesses to monitor and research their new features. Enrique Marquez, a small-business owner who consults with Facebook, told the Wall Street Journal that he still offers dog-obedience classes virtually and in-person as part of his regular business. Viewers can submit questions during Facebook livestreams, ensuring they receive the benefits of personal coaching.

Keep followers engaged by posting videos. Photo Credit: X10 Archery

Offer Virtual Content

To keep customers engaged online, archery shops should offer virtual content such as how-to videos, product spotlights, and examples of proper shooting form. Marquez said his virtual classes generated $9,000 in one month, proving it’s possible to profit from online content. Offer more advanced, in-depth courses through Facebook Messenger Rooms for small fees in addition to posting shorter, more basic videos to your social-media platforms at no charge. If you’re uncomfortable setting a price for video services, add a donate button to your livestream and ask viewers to donate what they can afford.

Consider using Facebook’s new features to maintain revenue and boost interest in your shop. The new features require no commitment, and you can stop using them whenever you like. If your online sales and virtual events make money, keep providing them in your daily business practices even after business returns to normal.

To learn more about using Facebook’s features, contact Scott Einsmann, ATA’s digital manger, at (866) 266-2776, ext. 114; or scotteinsmann@archerytrade.org.

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