Small businesses can now set up an online store for free on Facebook and Instagram, the social network has announced.
Facebook Shops will enable users to create and customise a page for their business as well as choose which product to showcase.
The social network said the new feature has been designed to help small businesses forced to close and now struggling during the coronavirus lockdown.
The feature has gone live on Facebook and Instagram in Ireland and the UK today.
Facebook said the new tool means that “any seller no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them”.
The social media giant said potential customers will be able to find Shop pages on a business’s Facebook page or Instagram profile, and then place orders via the business’s website.
Facebook also confirmed that in the future, users will be able to view items and make purchases from within the firm’s messaging platforms WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct.
“Right now many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online,” Facebook said.
“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.
“That’s why we’re launching Facebook Shops and investing in features across our apps that inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier.”
Facebook also announced it was testing a loyalty programme linked to the Shops feature, which could see users earn points on their Facebook account which can then be used to claim rewards.