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Facebook opens pop-ups at Macy’s, bringing the shoppability of Instagram offline.

What happened

  • Facebook will debut pop-ups at nine Macy’s department stores for the holiday season. In operation until February 2019, the pop-ups will feature more than 100 of users’ favorite brands—small businesses that sell via the social media site and on Instagram, which Facebook owns. The pop-ups will be located in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, LA, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, San Francisco and Seattle.

  • The brands will be hosted by The Market @ Macy’s, a retail concept that launched earlier this year to cycle in new brand collections based on an individual theme, much like Story, which the department store acquired in May 2018. Facebook will feature ads for The Market @ Macy’s and its pop-ups on both Facebook and Instagram.

Why it matters

  • Though it operates a massive advertising business, Facebook has had trouble establishing commercial opportunities on its platform. In 2011, Facebook attempted an ecommerce platform, Facebook Stores, but it didn’t catch on and was shut down the next year. Facebook Gifts was discontinued in August 2013 after just one year of existence in the U.S.—users found it too aggressive to receive notifications recommending that they purchase a present for a friend on their birthday. It then attempted a gift card business, which the company terminated in 2014. Instagram, on the other hand, which Facebook acquired in 2012, has become a hotspot for ecommerce where boutique and vintage vendors can attract a significant following and sell items, often over direct message—Instagram is now developing an ecommerce app of its own. Meanwhile, Pinterest has recently launched a feature called Shoppable Pins that allows users to purchase items they see on the social platform.

  • Without ecommerce success, the main question with Facebook’s pop-ups is how prepared the company is to take on a physical store. Still, broaching offline retail through Macy’s is a way for the company to enter the channel without devoting too much time or money to the prospect. At The Market @ Macy’s, brands pay an upfront fee to the department store for the real estate and keep all of the revenue—they can also commit to as little as one month of rent. Additionally, Macy’s employees provide all the staffing, letting digital-only brands enter brick-and-mortar without having to deal with hiring and training. These flexible terms are a good match for Facebook as it tests out this new concept.

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