Facebook’s rolls out new tools to help small businesses get customers in stores

Facebook is rolling out new tools to help small businesses prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

The social media giant announced Wednesday it would open up its offices across the globe in cities like New York, Chicago, London and Singapore to host a training program designed to help small businesses leverage the platform to grow their businesses. There will also be new tools for users to access for free via the app.

Facebook is refining its “story” function across Instagram and Messenger to include customizable templates so that business owners can create content like an advertisement, job posting or to announce a sale, by inserting text and uploading an image more easily.

It’s also rolling out an instant reply feature to let business owners respond to customers faster. Business owners can also set up an away message when their business is closed or on vacation, and create saved replies to send to commonly asked customer questions.

Michelle Klein, vice president of global business and customer marketing at Facebook, estimates that more than 140 million businesses use its platform every month to find new customers, hire employees and engage with customers.

And with ecommerce slated to comprise 36% of retail sales by 2022, the new tools could be a way to drive traffic offline and into retail stores.

“Getting people in stores during the holiday season is critical,”  Klein said. “We see a lot of retailers using digital surfaces to drive awareness and foot traffic.”

Other tech giants like Google have launched recent efforts to help small business owners. Google debuted a web portal in June for its Grow with Google campaign designed to make it easier for entrepreneurs to find business tools and services. The portal offered digital skills workshops like a personalized generator that asks business owners questions about their goals for growth, and plots out a business plan tailored to the company.