Social media behemoth Facebook will no longer allow its users to host any new or scheduled Facebook Live Shopping events on the platform.
The update may have sent shockwaves to companies and individuals who have used the platform for live e-commerce, but it is not all gloom-and-doom as Facebook also offered alternatives.
In a blog post, Meta, the company behind Facebook, recently made the announcement below:
“Beginning on October 1, 2022, you will no longer be able to host any new or scheduled Live Shopping events on Facebook. You will still be able to use Facebook Live to broadcast live events, but you won’t be able to create product playlists or tag products in your Facebook Live videos.
“As consumers’ viewing behaviors are shifting to short-form video, we are shifting our focus to Reels on Facebook and Instagram, Meta’s short-form video product.”
“If you want to reach and engage people through video, try experimenting with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram. You can also tag products in Reels on Instagram to enable deeper discovery and consideration. If you have a shop with checkout and want to host Live Shopping events on Instagram, you can set up Live Shopping on Instagram.”
This statement from Meta sums up the social media giant’s decision to shut down its Live Shopping. In this piece, however, let’s try to dissect this and try to dive a bit deeper, especially on what this means to live sellers and e-commerce overall.
How will this impact the future of e-commerce?
First, let’s backtrack a bit and discuss what Facebook Live Shopping is.
According to Meta, Live Shopping on Facebook is “a way to create live-streamed shopping events. You can showcase products in real-world settings, put product details and purchase options front and center, and interact with your audience directly from your live broadcast.”
Those on Facebook can use Facebook Shop template and go from there. You can then “create” the Live Shopping and start interacting with your audience. This is just an oversimplification of the steps, but Facebook Live Shopping basically allows your audience from your Live Shopping broadcast.
Additionally, you can also create a “product playlist” to showcase your products. This playlist is a collection of products you’ll feature during a live shopping video, where you can tag and feature products from your shop and add links for customers to purchase directly.
Clicking on a product in the product playlist while on a live stream will direct the audience to the online store’s website, product page, or link previously specified on the “product “playlist” by the user hosting the live stream.
Facebook Live Shopping was launched about two years ago in the US (and even earlier in Thailand), and all indications seem to point out that this feature is here to stay. It is thus quite a shock that Facebook decided to discontinue it.
It seems that Facebook is urging live sellers to use and “experiment” instead with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram to continue live-selling. Just like the product playlist, Facebook says you can still tag products in Reels on Instagram.
It also seems that Facebook wants to directly compete with the likes of TikTok, which incidentally now has live shopping, but using Instagram instead of Facebook itself. This makes sense because Facebook owns Instagram, anyway.
The future seems to be shaping up as a battle of short-form videos, which Facebook recognizes. “Reels” is the short-form video feature that is currently available on both Facebook and Instagram. In more ways than one, “Reels” is the direct competitor of a TikTok video.
Interestingly, one analyst pointed out that one of the major reasons Facebook pulled the plug on Live Shopping is that it simply was not able to gain substantial footholds on several markets or countries, and reportedly only enjoyed modest success in China.
And not just Facebook: TikTok also reportedly scrapped its live shopping plans in the US and Europe.
How will this impact live-sellers and where will they go to continue their business?
Meta clarified that not all countries or regions have the Facebook Live Shopping option. Recent reports noted that two countries—Thailand and the United States—will be affected by the removal of Live Shopping.
Other countries, including the Philippines, which does not have the Face Live Shopping option, will not be affected. This means live sellers can still continue live commerce as long as they are not based in Thailand and the United States.
News of Facebook’s decision to scrap Live Shopping was met with confusion and worry, especially in the Philippines.
Numerous reports said many Facebook live-sellers expressed worry that this development might affect them. Fortunately for Filipino sellers, this development will not affect them. Not yet at least.
Filipino Facebook sellers often use the “comments” section to choose products that they want. And since Live Shopping is not available to Facebook users in the Philippines, then it is status quo as far as Filipino sellers are concerned.
For Thailand and the US, however, Facebook will still allow Facebook Live broadcasts. However, sellers will no longer be able to create product playlists or tag products in your Facebook Live videos.
But Thailand and US sellers can still use Live broadcasts, but sans the convenience of a product playlist. Those who also have previous Facebook Live Shopping videos can still access the videos, Facebook said.