Facebook Tries to Friend Small Businesses Crippled by Coronavirus

Gene Naumovsky

Offering many of its business tools free of charge, Facebook is looking to assist struggling small businesses.

In an effort to establish a go-to e-commerce and business communication platform, Facebook Inc. looks to expand on Facebook Shops and offer businesses personalized virtual storefronts, according to The Wall Street Journal. Facebook is also offering small businesses a click-for-delivery feature (restaurants), gift- card possibilities, and pandemic-related fundraisers.

While speaking with The Journal, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said, “Especially for small businesses, these tools are tied to people’s livelihoods, and we have to get it right.”

Principal analyst at eMarketer, Debra Aho Williamson said, “Commerce is something they’ve been nibbling around the edges of for so long. The fact that Facebook is pushing this forward with small business in its sights could make social commerce much bigger than it is now.”

Facebook continues to consult with around 60 of its featured small business owners regarding product offerings, and all free of charge. The social media giant has also advertised applications to government-relief programs, financed surveys regarding small business operations, and donated $100 million in grants and ad credits to small businesses across the world (near Facebook operations). Some of Facebook Shops’ more unique features include options to sell products over live stream, creating a new kind of home-shopping network. The company also plans to incorporate social media data and messaging services to help businesses customize and personalize their shops. Ms. Sandberg added, “Businesses around the world were already using WhatsApp and Messenger to reach customers.” Facebook offers most of its business tools for free, and only charges a 5 percent payment-processing fee for Facebook Shops purchases, a small rate for the e-commerce industry.

New Orleans-based tech entrepreneur and manager for 15 musicians, Travis Laurendine said, “Do the artists want to have Facebook in the middle of their money? The answer’s probably ‘no.’ But you have to go where your customers are. I’m here for it.”

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