Facebook Tests Shopping Section, Catalog in Mobile Application


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Facebook Inc. is pushing harder to become a hot spot for shopping, going well beyond the “Buy” button Facebook started testing last year.

The social network is adding a shopping section to its mobile application, Facebook said in a blog post Monday. The new area will be available in the same menu as “Events” and “Groups.”

The Menlo Park, California-based company also is making it possible for a person who clicks on an ad to go to to a full-screen catalog for the retailer. That feature is intended to help users browse items faster through Facebook, rather than get redirected to the marketer’s website. The catalog feature is being tested on mobile phones with retailers including Target Corp.

Facebook has tried digital storefronts, birthday gifts and other shopping initiatives over the last several years, but the efforts haven’t always been effective. The social network nevertheless continues to look for ways to ease its 1.49 billion users into making purchases. Facebook doesn’t plan to take a cut of the revenue from the new features, for now.

But by gaining more direct insight into what people buy, Facebook can make its advertising more effective. It also makes the application more attractive to advertisers eager to make sales through mobile phones.

“On Facebook we’ve seen that people are coming to our platform not only to connect with friends and family but also with products and brands,” the company said. “This behavior–that’s already happening on Facebook–gives us a chance to make people and marketers’ experiences better.”

Other social-media sites also are trying to make shopping easier. Pinterest Inc. this year introduced a way for people to buy certain products directly from its site. Twitter Inc. allows people to buy items from some tweets, and in September announced a partnership with Stripe Inc., an online payments processor, to simplify mobile e-commerce.

 Facebook’s new efforts will be in testing during the holiday season, according to Mike Manning, a company spokesman.
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