Facebook and Shopify Ramp Up Ecommerce Tools for Small Businesses

Facebook and Shopify have launched Shops and Balance, respectively, to help small businesses sell online during coronavirus

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Now that everyone is stuck working remotely, plenty of us are turning our hands to running our own businesses from home. Now, two of the internet’s biggest companies are all trying to make selling online easier than ever.

In the space of two days, Facebook announced “Shops” and Shopify announced “Balance.” Facebook Shops is a new feature which would let customers buy products from independent retailers without leaving the Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram app. Shopify’s Balance, meanwhile, is a new and surprisingly straightforward merchant account which will make setting up an online store even easier.

Let’s take a look at the new features and why everyone is ecommerce-obsessed all of a sudden.

More on this – learn how Shopify’s fees break down in our Shopify Pricing guide

Shops on Facebook and Instagram

If you’re confused by this new announcement, we don’t blame you.

You can, after all, sell stuff on Facebook at the moment. For example, you could sell a secondhand product on Facebook Marketplace – though you’re not able to exchange money in that section of the app. You’ll also see businesses touting their wares on Facebook, often with links that allow you to buy the product.

However, the new Shops feature means that buyers won’t have to leave the Facebook or Instagram app environments in order to actually exchange funds for the purchase. That might seem like a small technicality, but it is a big step for Facebook, turning it from an advertising and social media platform to, effectively, an ecommerce platform.

So, why is Facebook launching Shops? Ostensibly, because it wants to add another string to its money-making bow.

“Our business model here is ads, so rather than charge businesses for Shops, we know that if Shops are valuable for businesses they’re going to in general want to bid more for ads,” Mark Zuckerberg said. “We’ll eventually make money that way.”

Facebook also said that it is working with the likes of Shopify and BigCommerce on Shops to help support small businesses. These existing ecommerce platforms allow users to integrate a Facebook page into their online store operations, giving them another avenue to attract business. But, with Facebook now allowing users to checkout in-app, these ecommerce platforms are going to lose out on some revenue.

Shopify Balance

shopify balance card

If you want to start a business, and accept card payments, you’ll need a merchant account — a type of bank account designed to store the funds necessary to run a business.

However, according to Craig Miller, Shopify’s chief product officer, the existing options aren’t fit for purpose any longer.

“The traditional products offered by banks were created in a world that’s very different. We went back to the principles of how they should be designed.”

Shopify Balance will give merchants a place to collect the money they make from their Shopify store, and the ability to log in, track cash flow, and pay bills. Shopify also said that it will offer cashback rewards and discounts on product shipping and marketing to Balance users. Users will also get a physical card to use.

However, users won’t be able to deposit cash into their Balance accounts — only money from the Shopify store or POS system will be allowed to enter the account. Of course, this might make managing and accounting easier.

Shopify has also announced a Buy Now, Pay Later feature. This gives customers the ability to pay for products in four equal instalments with no interest or additional fees. A new Local Delivery option is coming to Shopify businesses as well, which can give merchants the ability to manage deliveries for nearby customers separately from those who might be from farther afield.

Why is Everyone Getting into Ecommerce?

Yep, you guessed it – coronavirus.

“Some of the things we were anticipating as being important over the next coming years became super important basically overnight,” Craig Miller said. “We’ve been trying to equip our merchants as much as possible to deal with this kind of situation.”

Apparently, the number of local orders Shopify merchants received each day increased 176% in the six weeks leading up to April 24 — reflecting of course how much people are staying at home and ordering deliveries.

Facebook’s updates are also designed to help small businesses cope with coronavirus.

“Right now, many small businesses are struggling, and with stores closing, more are looking to bring their business online. 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,” read a Facebook press release.

So, what’s in it for Facebook and Shopify? Well, money. Facebook will be able to ramp-up ad sales from small businesses and if Shopify merchants go bust, that means no money for Shopify. But, these seem like genuinely helpful tools for small businesses. Maybe this is a rare win-win tech story.

Of course, if you want to sell your products online, you may wish to go all-in and create your own online store. It’s never been easier, thanks to the abundance of high quality ecommerce website builders. We round up the best you can choose in the table below, based on our own extensive testing:

0 out of 0
Test Score
Our score is based on independent assessments of ease of use, features, ecommerce functionality and value for money
Starting Price







Square Online

  • Robust email marketing
  • Outstanding shipping options
  • Comprehensive mobile app to manage store
  • The most ecommerce features across our research
  • Vast selection of marketing integrations
  • Built-in VR compatibility for showcasing products
  • Unlimited products for all plans
  • Mobile app can update pages, review traffic, and manage inventory
  • Outstanding email marketing templates
  • Advanced fraud detection system for security
  • No transaction fees
  • Customizable checkout options
  • Manage site from mobile app
  • POS system integrates with your site
  • Excellent site speed
  • No transaction fees
  • Only platform with transactional emails
  • Very user-centric experience
  • Live transaction monitoring enhances security
  • Unlimited product capacity
  • Excellent in-person selling functionality
  • Unlimited storage only available for $159/month
  • Cheapest POS is $69
  • Highest transaction fees on POS
  • Monthly fees for POS system
  • Scheduling and booking requires add-on
  • No tutorials for setup
  • POS system is currently exclusive to the US
  • Sorting and filtering of products requires add-on
  • Not ideal for larger ecommerce stores
  • No email marketing
  • No POS integrations
  • No mobile app to manage your store
  • No option to remove transaction fees
  • Users must report fraud cases
  • Not able to customize the checkout page
  • Lack of customization on email marketing
  • No AI features
  • No supported POS systems
  • Free plan is very limited
  • No way to remove transaction fees
  • Limited multichannel integration
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If you click on, sign up to a service through, or make a purchase through the links on our site, or use our quotes tool to receive custom pricing for your business needs, we may earn a referral fee from the supplier(s) of the technology you’re interested in. This helps Tech.co to provide free information and reviews, and carries no additional cost to you. Most importantly, it doesn’t affect our editorial impartiality. Ratings and rankings on Tech.co cannot be bought. Our reviews are based on objective research analysis. Rare exceptions to this will be marked clearly as a ‘sponsored’ table column, or explained by a full advertising disclosure on the page, in place of this one. Click to return to top of page

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Written by:
Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media, website builders, and point of sale software when he's not reviewing the latest phones.
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