Facebook is going to add a shop section to pages, so consumers can shop without leaving its app or site. Will the social network turn into an online marketplace like Amazon?

As part of its big e-commerce plan, Facebook is testing a new way to build virtual storefronts into business pages, allowing users to discover, view and purchase products within its ecosystem. Could this pose a threat to Google and Amazon?

The new experience could enable Facebook to become a virtual shopping mall, so many suspect that Facebook is taking on Amazon with shoppable pages. However, Vincent Meyer, vice president of business development for search advertising company adMarketplace, believes that there's no direct competition between Facebook and Amazon.

"Compared to Facebook, Amazon is a very different place," Meyer explains. "Amazon is an online marketplace that sells products from different retailers, while Facebook is an acquisition channel for retailers. I don't think Facebook wants to handle logistics and manage inventory, like Amazon has been doing."

shop-section-on-pages-jaspersNot yet ready to share which retailers are participating in the pilot program, Facebook created a mockup for a fake brand, Jasper's, to show what the Shop section will look like.

Earlier this year, Facebook developed a number of e-commerce features for Messenger, after unveiling a Buy button. The Shop section will further allow Facebook to provide an integrated shopping experience.

"We continually invest in making Facebook Pages a valuable presence for businesses and useful resource for people, and are at the early stages of testing a new Shop section on Pages that allows businesses to visually showcase their products," Emma Rodgers, head of ads product marketing for commerce at Facebook, tells ClickZ.

For the time being, Facebook is not taking a revenue share on products sold through this experience.

Meyer thinks that Facebook is (Read more...) to become a one-stop destination for shoppers, which will benefit retailers. 

"Historically, big retailers like Macy's and Nordstrom dominated the e-commerce space, but now, Facebook allows more small-to-medium-sized retailers to directly interact with consumers and sell their products," he notes.

Since the experiment just started, it's unknown if Facebook will enhance its search capabilities for a better shopping experience in the future. For example, when users type "cocktail dresses" into the search bar, Facebook will display shops that carry cocktail dresses.

If discoverability is part of Facebook's plan when developing the Shop section, the company could become a big competitor for Google, which is testing its own buy button, according to Meyer.

"Fragmentation is really here. Google has been dominant in the search space over the past 10 years. But now consumers could just browse, shop and buy within their Facebook app on mobile, instead of searching on Google, looking for different sites and shopping on those sites," he says. "The market dollar should be diversified, instead of only going to one player."

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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