How Facebook’s retail beacons and buy button work to create a new ecommerce reality

Travel is tied to brick-and-mortar — you have to move physically through the world to experience the industry. This means that there are physical items at all points throughout the journey.

Of course, there are plenty of virtual waypoints as well, from the initial booking phase to doing research on a smartphone while in destination.

Facebook wants to work to combine these two elements with a dual-pronged strategy of a “buy” button within News Feeds and a physical beacon presence in stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses across the country. The idea is to make Facebook a platform for commerce that makes sense both from a marketing and conversion perspective.

The “buy” button can be pushed to users who have a demonstrated interest in a particular product, who can then purchase right there in the News Feed. So if a user had demonstrated an interest, either via a like or actually going to a business, there could be a related promotion in the feed.

These purchase offers are enhanced by knowledge the platform gains from user interactions with the free beacons that Facebook is offering to businesses. Beacons, like the one below, will be placed in physical businesses, allowing Facebook users to access a more targeted stream of content related to that business.

This is known as Place Tips, a feature rolled out in January that surfaces more direct information related to a specific business that a Facebook user is in. Things like menu items, events and photos from friends are all game for a Place Tip placement. Beacons will help ensure accuracy for the users, and will also allow businesses to prompt Facebook users to like and recommend the business.


This also opens up another channel for marketing for hospitality businesses that want to target users in a particular place. The beacons also ensure that a competing business across the street doesn’t appear within the interface, which is an especially common problem in dense urban areas where it’s not always easy to distinguish the physical boundaries of businesses.

Facebook is now rolling out beacons to physical businesses across the U.S. to selected partners. In order to see if a business was selected, page admins should look for the screen below on the page.

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 11.02.18 AM


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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick helps brands blog better at Ghost Works, a boutique blog management service. Nick was previously the Director of Content for tnooz, where he oversaw the editorial and commercial content as well as producing/hosting tnoozLIVE.



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