Facebook Inc. will allow small businesses in emerging markets to sell to customers for free through their accounts.
The move is Facebook’s latest foray into e-commerce in emerging markets and marks a new effort to build up potential advertisers in its fastest-growing regions, Reuters reports.
The company launched a service last year allowing some merchants to sell items through paid ads on its app.
The latest service will instead be free and users can view products through merchants’ own Facebook pages.
By making sellers more reliant on Facebook, the company hopes that more businesses in emerging markets will decide to become paying advertisers.
“If a business is seeing value from their page, there is a higher opportunity that they could be an advertiser,” said Benji Shomair, product marketing director of Facebook Pages.
Facebook, whose stock hit an all-time high last week after reporting sharp growth in ad sales, has about three million active advertisers.
But there are more than 60 million businesses worldwide using its service that can set up pages for free in an attempt to reach more customers out of Facebook’s 1.7 billion global monthly users.
Southeast Asia is Facebook’s fastest-growing region for users but it still makes far more money off users in the United States and Canada.
The company made average revenue of US$13.74 per North American user in the second quarter compared with an average of US$1.74 per user in the Asia-Pacific region.
Facebook has launched Free Basics, a free, pared-down version of the internet, in more than 30 countries that have populations without reliable internet connections.
Also, it is building internet-beaming drones to connect people who have never had access to the internet.
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