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Social Commerce sellers who relied on FB Marketplace or Instagram for sales suddenly found themselves without a ‘buy now’ button. We understand that this is because Meta is introducing it own payment solution rather than, as previously, relying on established payment gateways to ensure that their e-merchants’ customers could buy online. EFA has written to FB asking if they would clarify their position to their e-merchant clients. Some e-merchants have built up impressive databases of friends who follow their FB page. Moving these potential customers to another payment solution poses major challenges for the merchants.

Social media’s great interest in payments mechanisms is recognition that AliPay is the real money-spinner for Alibaba. Elon Musk is keen to include a payments service in the ‘super app’ which he promises us as part of the new X (formerly known as Twitter). Meanwhile, the most popular social media, TikTok is retiring its original Storefront shopping feature this month in a bid to move merchants to TikTok Shop. TikTok Shop is live in the US, the UK, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. It launched in the US in November 2022 with several hundred retailers. However, research company Insider Intelligence reported a decline in usage in April when it claimed there were less than 100 registered US sellers on the platform. Storefront allowed merchants to sync their product inventory to a catalogue page on the platform or manually add products that linked customers back to their ecommerce site. These original integrations with ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Square can no longer connect. The Storefront tab will disappear from profiles, and ads using the Storefront feature will no longer be run.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp Channels, a new private broadcast service, has been launched globally by Meta allowing users to follow organisations, sports teams, artists, and thought leaders within the social media platform. The company announced that following an initial start in 10 countries it is now expanding to over 150 countries globally. The service will be separate from chats and will offer a “private way to receive updates that matter” to the individual user. It is a move that taps into a wider cross-industry trend of offering customers more personalised services. It is also means both organisations and individuals will have another avenue to grow their personal brands by being able to connect directly with their audience. Channels works as a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls. The tool can be found in a new tab called Updates on WhatsApp where the users see Status and channels they choose to follow, separate from chats with family, friends, and communities. Options that the user chooses to follow will not be visible to other followers.

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Alastair Tempest

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