Facebook and Instagram have introduced a new way of selling online that does not involve Amazon.

In their biggest push yet into online shopping, the pair of tech companies are allowing businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram pages into online storefronts for their fans and followers.

This big new feature for online merchants is called Facebook Shops. Facebook and Instagram are pitching it to small businesses as a new option for struggling brick-and-mortar shops to sell to customers online.

The initiative would make it easier for Facebook and Instagram users to find and buy products right from the apps.

The new joint venture comes amid a global explosion of e-commerce triggered by the covid-19 pandemic. The combination of stay-at-home mandates and unprecedented closure of nonessential brick-and-mortar shops around the globe have driven waves of customers to online shopping.

The covid race for ecommerce business

Now Facebook and Instagram have joined the online frenzy, positioning themselves as partners helping small businesses struggling to stay afloat.

Both Facebook and Instagram were already supporting a degree of ecommerce, via tools such as Facebook’s Marketplace.

In 2019, Facebook also launched a digital currency called Libra. The tech giant claims it wants to reach the 1.7 billion people around the world who do not have access to a bank account.

The current initiative, Facebook Shops, will further boost the partners’ businesses by offering retailers of all sizes even more reasons to buy ads on the two giants’ social networking apps.

On the other hand, the pandemic has drastically reduced advertising revenue, hurting Facebook’s bottom line, the company reported in April.

Facebook is not charging a fee or taking a cut of sales from companies that set up storefronts in the new Shops feature unless they use Facebook’s “Checkout” feature.

If they use “Checkout” to accept payments rather than using another e-commerce software firm, they pay 5 percent, which is higher than typical payment processing fees but lower than what Amazon or eBay charges.