Facebook made two huge announcements this week, both solidifying the company’s position to become an ecommerce leader in the coming years.
First, Facebook acquired The Find, a shopping-focused search engine with a loyal group of followers. The site, however, was shut down on Wednesday following the acquisition. A notice on The Find’s website states: “For the last nine years, we’ve worked hard to bring you a shopping experience that’s easy, efficient and fun –– searching all the stores on the web to find just the right products you’re looking to buy. We are now starting our next chapter by combining forces with Facebook to do even more for consumers. Facebook’s resources and platform give us the opportunity to scale our expertise in product sourcing to the over 1 billion people that use the platform. Unfortunately, this means we will be taking our search engine offline in the next few weeks.”
Consumers used The Find as a shopping comparison tool, and many retail marketers used the site to drive conversions for niche products. The company partnered with several established web and media properties including Paypal and Glam Publishers Network over the course of its 9-year run. According to Adweek, Facebook stands to gain tremendously from purchasing the largest shoppable search engine in the U.S., particularly:
- The ability to inject structured data feeds in mass from small businesses
- The most innovative US-focused comparison shopping company
- A foothold in the local and mobile shopping space
The play here is relatively obvious: Facebook is looking to out-compete Google’s own shoppable search engine, and may soon even allow for one-click checkout from within the platform, as indicated by Facebook’s upcoming mobile messaging app payment transfer capabilities.
“Facebook isn’t charging users for the service, but you can be sure they have a plan for making money from it,” says Angie Pascale, marketing director at Indaba Group. “Users have to input credit card information to send money. Once that info is stored in their account, one-click purchases from Facebook ads –– or some yet-to-be-released shopping functionality on Facebook –– will be a cinch.”
More than 500 million Facebook users use the Facebook Messenger app, which will soon become a competitor to money transfer apps including Venmo and even Snapchat. Facebook has processed payments on its main site for years, though users have not been able to transfer money between one another on the site heretofore.
Combined, these two announcements shed light on Facebook’s upcoming ecommerce and mobile commerce strategies. Using The Find, Facebook can create a shoppable search engine that rivals Google and Pinterest, and then, through its payments capabilities, the company can process transactions for those items via mobile –– all without having to leave the app.
“This all signals new shopping features or functionality that Facebook will be adding, thus providing more options for selling products on Facebook,” says Pascale. “Their partnership with Stripe last fall was an early indication that they are taking ecommerce seriously, and this is just another step in that direction.”
If you nor your customers do not currently use Facebook to shop, its likely that will be changing very soon.