Shop with Meta and Surrender Data
Our constantly vigilant friends at Meta made a significant announcement regarding shopping on Facebook and Instagram. Currently, if you use those nifty on-screen links that you can add to your Stories and Reels, you can have people directed either to Facebook to make the purchase or send them to your e-commerce solution (Shopify/Woo Commerce).
The latter is how I run my shop because it gives me more control over managing orders and customers. I originally had it set up to run through Facebook, but following up on orders through their system was more convoluted than necessary. Also, they require fulfillment within a brief period of time, and if you don’t fulfill in that timeframe, they yell at you. Don’t hit those marks repeatedly; they can shut down your access to shopping.
Fulfilling orders in a timely fashion is an essential function of running a shop online, and it’s something I strive for. Still, when I was running the pre-order for Mag Bash, I obviously couldn’t fulfill it in the timeframe Meta deemed necessary, and I would have gotten smacked down repeatedly.
Now, according to that update, and starting next month, any new shops in the Meta ecosystem will be required to use the Checkout with Facebook/Instagram functionality. In addition, by April of 2024, legacy shops (like mine) that use outside partners (like Shopify) will be forced to switch to Checkout with Facebook or completely lose access to the service.
Meta claims, “We're focused on building a seamless shopping experience for people that helps businesses of all sizes grow.” However, knowing their track record, I believe this has more to do with collecting our customer data and maximizing Meta’s potential to market to them directly. They probably also want to capture all those precious order processing dollars.
This is undoubtedly Meta’s attempt to go after Amazon.
When Meta uses the word seamless, what they mean is that they don’t want people to ever leave their platform. The longer people stay, the more data they can collect, and the more often Meta can put ads in front of them, ultimately forcing people to buy within the platforms themselves, continuing the cycle.
This is bad as someone trying to run a business on our terms. It’s another platform trying to force us into a digital sharecropping arrangement where they paint the picture of a new, more straightforward opportunity. Still, in reality, we become beholden to their terms of service. They entice us with all their bells and whistles, and once we become dependent on their services, they change the rules and tighten the reins.
For the time being, I will keep my connection to the Meta shopping system using my direct connection to my Shopify store until they tell me I can’t. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ll stop using Instagram, but that may be a consideration, depending on how tightly they yank those reins.
In the meantime, I keep growing the newsletter, adding new and relevant items to my shop, and maintaining control over how I operate my business instead of choosing the convenience of working with a tech company that only wants to take advantage of my efforts.
I can’t stress enough how essential starting an email list is to growing a business. If you’ve been meaning to create one yourself but didn’t know when or how to start, Substack is the lowest entry barrier and can help you maintain your autonomy.