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Meta just killed another service and, maybe with it, some shopping potential

Young woman shopping online with laptop
(Image credit: Oscar Wong / Getty Images)
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Meta is shutting down yet another service. This time, Facebook Live Shopping will go offline on October 1, 2022.

Starting on that date (opens in new tab), no one will be able to host any new or scheduled shopping live streams. Facebook Live will remain, but you won’t be able to tag products in those videos nor create product playlists, according to the announcement. The social media platform encourages people to save their previous live streams and links to a set of instructions on how to do so (opens in new tab).

Live Shopping is shutting down because Meta wants to focus on Reels as its main video platform. Facebook claims people are watching short-form videos more often and it's adjusting accordingly. For sellers who still want to live stream, the company is telling people to use Live Shopping on Instagram (opens in new tab), instead. It also recommends people try out Reels and Reels Ads (opens in new tab) to tag their products in their videos.

While live e-commerce isn’t dead on Meta's platforms, it’s certainly taken a blow. 

Short lifespan

Facebook Live Shopping is another short lived-product that, some might argue, was cut down prematurely. Live Shopping first arrived n 2018 when it was tested on a handful of pages in Thailand before rolling out in an official capacity in 2020. And it’s not like Live Shopping was ignored, either, as it saw fairly frequent updates. 

November 2021 saw the addition of Live Shopping for Creators (opens in new tab) which allows content creators and product brands to cross-stream on their respective pages without forcing their audiences to choose one live stream over the other. The platform also experimented with weekly events last summer via Live Shopping Friday (opens in new tab). Major beauty and fashion brands came onto the platform to promote their new product lines in an interactive live stream.

What makes the sudden Live Shopping shut down even stranger is that it had a lot of potential to succeed. Looking at Live Shopping’s own business page on Meta’s website, the platform was expected to make $500 billion in revenue by 2023. 

It appears that Meta actually believed in the platform, so what gives? 

Analysis: Propping up Reels

There is a lot of growth potential for live e-commerce shopping as the industry continues to grow. A Statista study (opens in new tab) revealed live e-commerce sales reached $6 billion in 2020 and are forecasted to hit $11 billion in 2021. And it's projected that sales could reach $35 billion by 2024. These numbers appear plausible if you look at how successful live-ecommerce has been in China. Consultancy group McKinsey Digital said in a 2021 report (opens in new tab) that Chinese live e-commerce sales could hit $423 billion this year. 

Besides the growth aspect, the shutdown will surely have a negative impact on businesses that rely on Live Shopping. In a Business Insider report (opens in new tab), Mimi Striplin, owner of the boutique The Tiny Tassel, revealed sales for her store went up by almost 50 percent after her first Live Shopping stream.

Those numbers call into question Meta’s insistence on making Reels a bigger part of its platforms. Yes, Facebook Marketplace and Live will continue to exist and yes, you can still hold e-commerce live streams on Instagram. There are indeed options, but is shutting down a platform that people depend on and has growth potential worth it to push Reels? 

Perhaps Meta believes live e-commerce shopping is not worth the effort and Reels is. But there are many users out there pushing back against short-form videos taking over platforms.

TechRadar’s own Daryl Baxter is tempted to delete his Instagram account after a fairly recent Reels update. We recommend checking out what he had to say.

Cesar Cadenas
Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.