In case Likes are a bit too virtual for you, Facebook is continuing to push forward with "buy" buttons. Facebook tells BuzzFeed News that it's now beginning to build online stores into a small number of business pages. This is only a test for now, but it's pretty clear where Facebook wants this to go. Online shopping is a huge opportunity: if Facebook can get people to start buying through its platform, it could add a big additional revenue source to supplement ads. Getting people to start doing that is going to be a hurdle, however, and it's likely that Facebook is keeping the test small until it feels it has the service right.
Who's looking forward to sharing their latest purchase?
Facebook intends to handle the entire shopping experience, including checkout, according to BuzzFeed. It's not clear what the process of shopping on Facebook will look like, but a mockup that it shared (above) makes browsing items look like it could be much the same as browsing through an image gallery. That's a sensible place to let companies direct people toward making a purchase — it's a bit like what Pinterest has been trying — and it's likely that some stores are already interested in enhancing their Facebook Pages this way. Just yesterday, Business Insider Intelligence said it had found that Facebook referrals are leading to more e-commerce revenue than any other social network, which just goes to underscore how much of an opportunity the site has.
Buy buttons have been starting to pop up across Facebook for about a year now, but so far they've only been inside of advertisements in the News Feed. Building stores into Facebook Pages should be a much more transformative change. For now, Facebook says that the number of stores being tested are in the "double digits," according to BuzzFeed, but it apparently declined to state what pages they're on. As with the existing buy buttons, Facebook isn't taking a cut of sales just yet, but it seems pretty safe to assume that it'd like to down the road. With any luck, this experiment ought to go better than Gifts.