Facebook tests live shopping experience

10 December 2018   By Samantha Smith

Facebook is testing a new livestream shopping experience, allowing merchants to show off their wares more clearly to potential buyers and answer questions about them in real-time.

Facebook is working to keep its consumer and business users on board, by testing a new livestream shopping feature.

The social media platform is working with select businesses and audiences in Thailand, letting them test the feature. It allows businesses to showcase their stock and services, in a live video stream.

Merchants can give potential buyers a better idea of what an item of clothing looks like on a real, moving person, or how quiet or loud an item is, or even exactly how a particular service will work.

The theory is that this live showcase and interaction, will encourage more online sales on the platform, while giving users more reasons to visit Facebook.

facebook live

Thailand test phase for livestream showcase

Facebook hasn't yet shared the news of this shopping livestream feature test through its official newsroom channels. However, it did confirm the action to TechCrunch.

After previous tests with a Thai audience for other ecommerce projects, Mark Zuckerberg's tech business is utilising the country test base once again.

This latest feature means users can ask questions and receive answers in real-time. It also allows the seller to show off specifically requested elements of their chosen item or service.

According to Facebook, it has received a broadly positive response to this new service. That bodes well for a potentially wider roll out of the feature to a global audience, including the UK.

Buying products over Facebook

Users are alerted to an upcoming livestream shopping experience by shops and sellers they like and follow, through ads or push notifications.

If after watching the livestream, users are interested enough to make a purchase, they can do that by sending a message to the seller, through Facebook's Messenger app.

Mobile accounts for much of Facebook's traffic. Likewise, it's an increasingly popular way for shoppers to make purchases and that's one reason the social media platform is considering providing this new service for its users.

But Facebook isn't the only major organisation showing a keen interest in online and mobile shopping.

A new EU directive to help make online purchases more secure is being introduced from September 2019. However, some banks have introduced it this year and where an online purchase for over £30 is made, secondary verification is requested in the form of a code via a text message or push notification.

Tough time for Facebook

Although the tech giant is continuing to develop new features for its users, Zuckerberg's business and data security practices remain under scrutiny. Indeed, security practices news from the platform, among others, has encouraged calls for an UK internet regulator.

The first major Facebook data security breach to hit the headlines earlier this year, centred on Cambridge Analytica. The data analyst firm is accused of gaining access to and then storing the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users who had filled in a survey on the platform.

This raised big questions over Facebook's data security policy and practices. While in the first instance it's our own responsibility to ensure we share personal data wisely, it's also important users are able to trust that tech firms will only ever use user data in the way they say they will.

Zuckerberg's tech business has remained under close scrutiny since this news broke. It continues to face questions and investigations over how 'bad actors' have been able to use the site to manipulate voters ahead of key poll dates across the globe.

And, just this week, Facebook has been accused of sharing user data with some developers. In addition, a UK Parliamentary Committee said details about an update to its Android app, which would allow it to collect user calls and text data, was deliberately obscured.

Amid these latest developments, it may need many more new features and ideas to keep hold of its users.

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