Facebook has announced the launch of 'Facebook Shops', a new shopping capability for business. 

Facebook Shops allows businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. 

Once completing the free setup, businesses can choose the products they want to feature in the store from their catalogue and can then customise their shop with a cover image and accent colours. 

Customers will be able to find a business' Facebook Shop on its Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads.

From there, customers can browse the full collection, save products they’re interested in and place an order - either on the business’ website or without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout (in the US). 

Customers will also be able to message a business directly with a question through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct when shopping in the Facebook Shop. 

In a statement, Facebook said that it wanted to help businesses get through this particularly difficult trading period. 

"We hope these tools can relieve some of the pressure small businesses are facing right now and help businesses of all sizes prepare for the future.

"We want to give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying. And we want to help small businesses adapt and make it easier for people to discover and shop for things they love.

"Our goal is to make shopping seamless and empower anyone from a small business owner to a global brand to use our apps to connect with customers," Facebook said. 

Instagram is also getting an update to its shopping features with the new Instagram Shop which consumers will be able to discover through the Explore tab.

Users can seek inspiration from @shop, browse selections from their favorite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home and complete a purchase all in one place. 

Later this year, the Instagram navigation bar will also be updated to include a shop tab to allow customers to access the shop in one tap. 

'Live' shopping is also set to become more of a reality, with businesses soon able to tag products from their Facebook Shop or catalogue before going live on Instagram.

These products will then show up at the bottom of the Live video and consumers will be able to tap to learn more and purchase. 

Facebook is also testing ways of linking existing loyalty programs to customer's profiles. 

This feature will allow consumers to keep track of their points and rewards with retailers. 

Facebook is also exploring how a business with a Facebook Shop can create, manage and surface a loyalty program on Facebook Shops. 

The Facebook and Instagram Shops are being rolled out in the US first, with the capabilities set to be introduced to other markets in the coming months. 

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