Checkout with Facebook & Instagram South Africa: What you need to know in 2023

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As a South African business owner, staying informed about the latest changes on these platforms is important. Because a lot of them have changed. A prime example of this is that of the social media juggernaut Meta.

Formerly named Facebook, Meta describes itself as a technology company that aims to help people connect with one another, find communities, and grow businesses.

The social technology company used to allow you to sell products on its apps with an online storefront called Shops. But now, the way you’ll be able to sell goods on its sites has changed.

Whether you have a Facebook Shop or usually sell on Instagram, Meta has introduced new rules that’ll change how your business sells on social media. It’s time to get clued up.

What is Checkout with Facebook & Instagram?

So if Facebook Shops allows you to have a digital storefront and market and sell to your customers right from the app, what is this Checkout with Facebook & Instagram?

This new feature helps you sell directly to your customers (and will enable them to complete the purchase) without them having to leave the app. Essentially, Meta has extended the Shops feature from a simple storefront product catalogue, to a full eCommerce checkout and payment experience on Facebook and Instagram.

However, Checkout doesn’t allow your Facebook or Instagram store to direct your customers to an external eCommerce site where they’ll complete their purchase. And that’s where the change lies.

What does this change in checkout method mean (and how does it affect your business)?

TLDR: If you run a South African business, you can no longer use Facebook or Instagram Shop catalogues and product tagging for your store.

Meta announced that if your shop doesn’t have Checkout with Facebook & Instagram enabled in the U.S., you’ll no longer be allowed to host a shop on your Facebook Page or Instagram account from 10 August 2023.

Essentially, this means that if your South African storefront on either Facebook or Instagram directs your customers to an eCommerce website where they’ll “checkout,” so to speak, you won’t be able to access your shop. And since you’ll no longer be able to host a shop on your Facebook Page or Instagram account as a South African business, this can impact your sales on either platform.

If making money on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, forms a significant part of your revenue, your business could make much less revenue and profit. It’s also worth considering the percentage of potential South African customers you could have reached on Facebook Shops and Shops on Instagram had this change not been implemented.

Seeing that  48% of South Africans buy products directly on Facebook and Instagram, not having a storefront on Meta’s sites could mean missing out on selling to a valuable market segment.

This means you’ll have to look at your financials and marketing data to estimate the revenue from this market segment. Armed with this knowledge, you can devise ways to reach and engage them to ensure continued sales without Facebook Shop and Shops on Instagram.

That said, you’ll still have to continue to market to and reach other market segments your business is targeting.

When does this change take place?

The change officially takes place on 10 August 2023 for South African merchants who sell on either of Meta’s shops. From this day onwards, you won’t be able to access your Facebook and Instagram Shops or related features.

Here are a few key dates applicable to South African businesses:

  • 27 April 2023: Meta announced it will phase out onboarding Shops that haven’t enabled checkout on Facebook and Instagram. But it’ll ease the transition by still supporting businesses in eleven markets that link to other websites until 24 April 2024. South Africa isn’t one of these eleven markets.
  • 10 August 2023: South African merchants like yourself won’t be able to access your shops and Instagram and Facebook storefronts. This also applies to businesses within the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region.

Which platforms and businesses are affected?

All platforms and businesses that sell online and on social media, through Shops or Facebook Marketplace, are affected. So, if you’re a South African business owner, these changes particularly affect your South African business (or your business in other EMEA regions).

Meta’s announcement means you won’t be able to have an online storefront on Facebook and Instagram.

But it’s not all bad news!

What if You Don’t Have an eCommerce Website?

You may be wondering how you can navigate this, especially If you don’t have an eCommerce Website.

Thankfully, you still have options if you run a small business and want to keep selling on Facebook and Instagram. Since you’ll no longer be able to have your own storefront on Facebook and Instagram from 10 August 2023, you’ll need to find a way to sell online. That’s where Netcash Shop comes in.

Netcash Shop is a powerful eCommerce Shopping Cart solution that helps South African businesses, from small to medium, sell anywhere. No website? No problem. You can sign up for Netcash Shop and get Instant Site, a free website with built-in eCommerce.

On your Instant Site, you’ll easily be able to set up shop settings, connect your social media for advertising, add Netcash’s eCommerce Payment Gateway, and include shipping methods to start selling for less than R100 per month.

How can your business sell on Facebook and Instagram in 2023?

So, with all these changes, how can you maintain and ramp up sales on Meta’s platforms in 2023 and beyond? We suggest you incorporate the following into your social media marketing strategy:

Make use of organic posting options with links to external sites

Organic posting is a valuable way to reach and connect with your customers. Take advantage of this free way to market your products by creating compelling and informative content that’ll delight your customers.

Great content captivates your customers and can direct them to your external website or eCommerce platform. Here, your customers can make purchases and help you generate revenue.

But you have to be consistent in your content marketing efforts. “Keep showing up,” as they say. And ensure you mix things up with different formats, such as newsfeed posts and Instagram carousels. Plus, you can use videos and reels to show off your offering and give your customers a glimpse into your business’s background.

Additionally, regularly posting links to external sites can help your business succeed with selling on Facebook and Instagram.

Use Reels and Stories to attract audiences and link to your site there

Instagram’s Reels and Stories are both powerful ways to engage your audience on a more personal level. With the link sticker on Instagram Stories, you can direct your customers to your eCommerce website. This means you can post pictures of your products and link your customers directly to those pages on your eCommerce store.

While you can’t link directly with Reels, these short videos allow you to post fun and helpful content that showcases your products. Adding prices and specials in the videos and captions will help your customers know what to expect when they arrive on your website.

Use advertising options with product tags and links to external sites

Despite Meta’s recent changes, you can still include shoppable product tags within your ads, which allows your customers to view and click on your products straight from the advertisement.

And with Facebook’s Business Manager platform, you can create and place ads across Facebook and Instagram. You’ll also get to target specific audiences and maximise the potential customers you’ll reach.

Remember, you can also boost your organic posts to increase how many potential customers view your products and drive customer traffic to your eCommerce website.

Incorporate “DM to order” and link to external sites

You could also let your customers know that they can send you a DM (direct message) to order the products you’ve posted on Facebook or Instagram.

When they DM your business, you (or your social media manager) can send them a link to your eCommerce website (link directly to the product they’re asking for so they’re not confused), where they can proceed to order and pay.

Remember to make it easy for your customers to “DM to order.” Customers are more likely to buy from you when the process is easier. Want to give your customers a positive experience and keep them coming back for more? Ensure your prices are readily available. You can include the price in your social media copy. Plus, you can set up an Instagram highlight named “Prices” to give your customers easy access to price lists and catalogues your business may have.

Checkout with Facebook & Instagram FAQs

Change can bring with it uncertainty, so these Qs and As are meant to help you find some clarity:

1. I never had a Facebook Shop, I only ran ads, will these changes affect me?

This won’t affect you, so you can continue with business as usual.

2. I have a Facebook/Instagram shop but no eCommerce website, what do I do next?

Looks like this is your sign to set up an Instant Site with Netcash Shop. This will help you to direct your followers to purchase your products on a secure website through organic posts, DM orders, and in social media advertising.

3. I exclusively sold on Marketplace. What do I do now?

While it’ll be done differently, you can still sell on Facebook and Instagram. Follow the tips shared above, like posting organically on social media. You can even post captions saying “DM to order.” That said, you can easily set up an Instant Site with Netcash Shop to make selling a lot easier for yourself and your customers.

Final thoughts on Checkout with Facebook & Instagram

Although your business may no longer access the Facebook or Instagram Shop feature, you can still make sales on social media.

Share more organic posts, Instagram Reels, and Stories with your customers and feature your products as much as possible. Also, level up your advertising efforts by incorporating product tags, and boosting your most popular organic posts. Lastly, you can leverage direct messaging to turn customer conversations into conversions.

As a market-leading payment solutions provider specialising in eCommerce, Netcash understands the challenges your business might face with these changes. The Netcash team offers much-needed support and guidance to ensure your business thrives in this ever-changing digital era.

Contact us today to chat about your business’s social selling strategy.

Candice Sergeant
eCommerce Product Owner

Stay in Touch

Candice Sergeant is an experienced eCommerce Product Owner at Netcash, driving the growth strategy for SaaS e-commerce solutions in South Africa with global partner Ecwid by Lightspeed. Candice is skilled at uncovering opportunities to optimize the online presence and operations of startups and medium businesses across a range of industries.

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