Facebook has been fiddling about with a number of e-commerce initiatives over the years, though it appears it's on the verge of rolling out some significant changes to take its efforts to the next level.
The latest news is that the social networking giant has started offering businesses the chance to build "mini e-commerce sites" within Facebook pages, according to a BuzzFeed report.
Emma Rodgers, Facebook's product marketing manager, told BuzzFeed the upcoming feature, which is being tested with select businesses, will give merchants the opportunity "to showcase their products directly on the page" and allow users to purchase them there and then via 'buy' buttons.
The new feature should keep users on Facebook for longer, eliminating the need to exit the site in order to purchase a product they've seen on its pages. This works for Facebook in a number of ways -- it'd be able to take a cut of purchases made via its site, while keeping users on Facebook for longer periods of time would obviously please advertisers.
With the e-commerce market forecast to be worth around $350 billion this year -- nearly six times the prediction for the digital ad market -- Facebook will be keen to build out its online commerce offering sooner rather than later.
Facebook's growing interest in e-commerce mirrors that of other major social media players -- among them Twitter and Pinterest -- that are rushing to launch relevant tools and features. And Google, which pulls in most of its cash from ads, is also moving into the space, today launching a buy button on its shopping pages.
Facebook's e-commerce efforts don't stop with its main social networking site, either. Messenger, Facebook's messaging app that's overseen by former PayPal president David Marcus, recently rolled out a money-transfer feature, while a report this week suggested the app could be about to introduce a delivery concierge service along the lines of apps such as Magic and Operator.