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Facebook and Google have both launched free shopping product listings. Not only will this help to rebuild the economy while the Covid-19 pandemic continues, it will help a lot of small businesses get online for the first time.

Free product shopping listings from Google:

Now, instead of having to pay for product listings on Google’s Shopping tab, all online retailers will be able to list their wares for free. This means most search results on the Google Shopping tab will be free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.

While Google have been planning to do this for some time, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a major factor in making this happen now.

Google’s main search page won’t change. There’ll still be paid shopping ads on the same page as the free Google Shopping listings, so advertisers wanting prominence in the search results and to show more products, will continue to pay for ads.

No-fee shopping from Facebook and Instagram:

Similarly, with the Facebook and Instagram Shops, businesses in the UK and around the world can now sell their products through in-app stores on Facebook and Instagram without having to pay a fee. The stores will appear on business pages, Instagram profiles and through targeted ads.

Facebook say their Facebook Shops rollout has also been in the pipeline for at least half a year, with the initial stage of the plan being brought forward and extended because of Covid-19. Now they want businesses whatever their size to benefit during this difficult time.

Eventually Facebook’s fee-free shopping will also appear on WhatsApp and Facebook’s other messaging apps where it will integrate with live streams. So when someone decides they want to buy something, they’ll be directed to the company’s website to do it. If they have questions, they can simply use Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram Direct messages.

There’s never been a better time to connect with your customers

There’s no doubt the lockdown has worked in both Google and Facebook’s favour. It’s also clear that free listings will certainly drive more advertising and have a considerable impact on shoppers and advertisers.

Both approaches will be continually modified during the coming months. Google have promised to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months to include a new partnership with PayPal, allowing merchants to link their accounts.

Google also pledged to continue working closely with their eCommerce partners, like WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify, to help merchants manage their products and inventory better, and to make digital commerce more accessible for businesses of all sizes.

Facebook plans a wider range of shopping changes across Facebook’s products, including with a loyalty scheme linking things such as points from local coffee shops to Facebook, and a Shop button to showcase products and brands on Instagram’s main navigation bar.

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