Facebook (META -1.31%) has always been a platform for retailers to get the word out, interact with customers, and even indirectly make sales.
What it never had been was a direct sales engine -- a place where customers could go and easily purchase a book, a new pair of shoes, or any other hard goods.
That may soon change, however, as the company is expanding its testing of a "buy" button, which would allow for direct sales through the site. This service would perhaps allow the social-media network, which has had huge success getting its user base to directly download apps from its advertisers, to facilitate the sale of physical goods.
If it works, the buy button makes Facebook a direct competitor to online sales leader Amazon.com (AMZN -4.41%).
What is Facebook doing?
The social network is in the early stages of testing the buy button under an emerging initiative it calls "Facebook for Business." On the Web page for that service, the company detailed how the direct-sales initiative will work:
With this feature, people on desktop or mobile can click the "Buy" call-to-action button on ads and Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook.
Pretty much any digital sale that doesn't go through Amazon was one the company could have made. The expansion of the Facebook buy button could make it easy for impulse buys or even big, planned purchases to happen away from Amazon.