Facebook is shutting down its live shopping feature on October 1st to shift its focus to Reels, the company announced in a blog post. After this date, you will no longer be able to host any new or scheduled live shopping events on Facebook, the company says. The social media network notes that you will still be able to use Facebook Live to broadcast live events, but you won’t be able to create product playlists or tag products in your Facebook Live videos.
Live stream video shopping became publicly available on Facebook two years ago, following a series of smaller trials and beta tests. The feature was designed to give creators and brands an interactive way to sell items, connect with viewers and potentially gain new customers. However, Facebook says it's now shifting away from live video shopping to focus on Reels.
“As consumers’ viewing behaviors are shifting to short-form video, we are shifting our focus to Reels on Facebook and Instagram, Meta’s short-form video product,” the company said in the blog post. “If you want to reach and engage people through video, try experimenting with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram. You can also tag products in Reels on Instagram to enable deeper discovery and consideration. If you have a shop with checkout and want to to host Live Shopping events on Instagram, you can set up Live Shopping on Instagram.”
Facebook first debuted live shopping in 2018 and has tested ways to make the feature more seamless and popular over the past couple of years. Last November, the company began testing “Live Shopping for Creators.” The launch allowed creators and brands to cross-stream on both of their pages, as opposed to having to direct users to a single page. In addition, the company launched “Live Shopping Fridays” last summer in order to encourage larger brands to try out live shopping as a medium and raise awareness about live shopping on Facebook. The program featured brands like Abercrombie and Fitch, Bobbi Brown, Clinique and Sephora.
A live shopping platform could have ultimately served as a significant revenue stream for Facebook, thanks to selling fees applied at checkout. However, given today's announcement, it's clear that Facebook is rethinking its stance on live shopping.
Facebook isn't the only digital giant looking to scale back its live shopping plans, as it was recently revealed that TikTok has reportedly dropped plans to expand its live e-commerce “TikTok Shop” initiative to the U.S. and additional parts of Europe. The company launched TikTok Shop in the U.K. last year, its first market outside Asia, allowing companies and influencers to sell products through QVC-style livestreams. However, the venture struggled to gain traction with consumers and suffered from internal problems. The Financial Times reported that the expansion plans were abandoned after influencers dropped out of the project in the U.K.
Livestream shopping is becoming increasingly more popular in Asia, and particularly in China. However, since both Facebook and TikTok are walking back their live shopping plans, it seems that general consumer awareness and adoption of live shopping is still low outside of Asia.