As ecommerce has grown over the last span or so, it’s also advanced, changed shape, and developed numerous sprouts. One of those sprouts of the big ecommerce upheaval is social commerce and it’s making a big splash. That’s a big scope for retailers. Just as social media equalize the marketing playing field, social commerce is giving brands both big and small a new way to maximize on their hard-earned social media reach. With e-commerce and social media both growing at shocking rates, it’s no wonder brands are using the two together to maximize openings for sales.
Marketers and consumers are always looking for the newest thing with which to engross. For consumers, it’s social outreach and sharing. For marketers it’s commerce and sharing. So, the measure of what’s offered to consumers in both social and retail platforms is huge and increasingly alternative platforms are on the way. Social media platforms and eCommerce used to be separate entities. Today, 87% of shoppers say they consult with or search on social media before buying any item. Retailers target social sites with ads, articles, and social pages for their brands. Shoppers also have the ability to purchase directly from social channel.
While the decision-making process of the buyer has not changed, smartphones and social media have altered the role of sellers significantly as we’ll see. It’s made it easier to sell to customers right where they are on the social platform. New, alternative platforms are created to try to meet those ever-growing expectations, but expectations are like an oil spill and online social and online retail have begun to intermingle.
Ecommerce is a shortened version of the phrase “electronic commerce” which essentially describes any type of exchange of currency for goods or services online. At its widest, the definition of eCommerce would include act of performing business through an online medium via the internet. However, for most people, when they think about eCommerce, their minds would be concentrated on buying and selling, or online shopping as it is popularly called. Some retailers reside in the physical world only and have bricks and mortar shops; some reside purely in the virtual world; others occupy both realms. Whatever realm(s) a retailer occupies; however small the enterprise may be; successful businesses know that the customer is king.
Social commerce is about selling products directly through social media platforms. Social commerce involves the use by people of social networks to engage in eCommerce transactions. Sometimes referred to as social shopping, social commerce is the combination of social media and commerce, enabling brands to streamline the buying process whilst amplifying the effectiveness of social advertising.
Some of the most common social commerce features include:
- Buy buttons within social media posts
- Shoppable posts and stories
- Ads on social networks including calls to action redirecting to e-commerce sites
- Peer-to-peer buying and selling
- Social commerce plugins and apps
Instead of concentrating on driving traffic to the seller’s website, “Social Commerce” targets shoppers directly on sites like Facebook and Instagram. It’s the natural evolution of shopping and social media. Businesses found a willing target audience on social media sites, and people were more than happy to talk about their shopping experiences. Social commerce also refers to communities and forums where buyers and sellers compare notes about their shopping experiences. Some examples include Groupon, LivingSocial and Pinterest.
“Social commerce” brings the bricks and mortar shopping experience to the virtual world. It adopts for eCommerce the techniques that marketers have deployed in the real world for decades to make the shopping experience more informative and enjoyable for customers.
Social commerce has changed the way we gather credible information about products and companies. It’s all about authenticity. Shoppers want stories and reviews from real people about their experiences. Customers and influencers have a huge impact in the decision process.
Shoppable Posts and Stories
Shoppable posts and stories allow brands and users to tag specific products wherever they are within posts or “stories.” This type of social shopping is relatively new, but with Instagram and Snapchat both launching their own version of the feature, it’s taken off quickly.
Social media is integral to digital marketing, and visual platforms like Instagram are gold for marketers. Better yet, visual commerce is taking off as more consumers are willing to buy products through ads they see in their feeds. E-commerce brands can create and post interactive ads that allow users to click and shop with ease. Instagram believes this will make it easier for businesses to reach prospective new customers, as it will effectively shorten the sales funnel, giving consumers the instant access, they desire.
If you follow brands on either network, you may have noticed when they suddenly started prompting you to “Swipe up to learn more!” Whether it’s a post or a story, this isn’t usually a blatant advertisement. Typically, products are simply tagged within a piece of content, like the watch in the image above.
This feature enables brands to reduce friction and create a more seamless experience for customers because the entire shopping experience stays within the social media app itself. Customers don’t have to open a new app or interrupt what they’re doing at all. That’s why it’s a popular feature, with 41% of brands giving it a try on Instagram.
How Social Commerce is changing E-Commerce?
Previously, platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram were limited to commenting, liking and sharing, but users have begun to start buying on social sites as well. Consumers now log onto social media not only to connect with their friends and family but to inform, and make purchases.
In the past, users would browse through social media, see something they like, click on it, and eventually they would have to leave the platform in order to make the purchase. Now, the purchase journey has become more refined and users can make purchases directly on their newsfeeds. This change in the checkout process is one of the main reasons why social commerce is becoming more widely recognized.
Apart from interacting and engaging with your target audience, social media allows you to sell directly to them. In fact, 31% of online shoppers say that they use social platforms to browse new items, and 95% of adults between the ages of 18 – 34 follow a brand on social media. Your business can leverage this kind of face time with valued customers by effectively showcasing your products and services on social sites.
In the past, social media has been actively used as a tool to capture people’s attention in order to redirect them towards the e-commerce website. But thanks to social media’s proficiencies, it has now become the very e-commerce website we can shop in. Social commerce allows businesses deliver different goods and services directly to consumers on the social channels that they prefer the most. In other words, more expedient shopping for a lot of consumers.
4 Ways to Use Social Commerce for E-commerce
Social commerce lets you sell your products via a third-party platform specifically, social media networks. Contrary to what some people believe, social commerce benefits your e-commerce store. The goal here is to give your customers a direct way of reaching you reducing the steps they have to take just to get the product they want. Having ads to raise awareness is great, but if that’s the only process you rely largely on to redirect people to your website, then you’re missing out on hefty conversion rates.
1. Instagram’s Shoppable Posts
During average days, there are over 95 million videos and pictures put up on Instagram. And the implementation of Instagram’s “Shop Now” feature has effectively turned the visual-sharing social platform into a social commerce power source.
Shoppable posts allow sellers to reach customers and bring important product information where they are looking for inspiration. And that is part of the reason why Instagram users welcome this new feature too.
2. Set Up Shop on Facebook
Almost 50% of social media users on the internet claim they have used Facebook to make purchases. And Facebook’s business pages have the capability to leverage this platform and drive sales.
To sell in a Facebook Shop, you need a dedicated Facebook page solely for your business. In turn, your business page should be managed through the Facebook Business Manager tool. You can either connect your e-commerce website to Facebook or upload your own product categories manually.
E-commerce platforms like BigCommerce actually make selling on Facebook easier, because you can synchronize your product catalogues, your inventory, as well as manage sales, customers, and orders in one place.
3. Buyable Pins for Pinterest
Social commerce strategies are better established on social media mobile applications like Instagram, Facebook, and of course, Pinterest. The majority of the users on Pinterest like to visit the platform for ideas, inspiration, and products that they’re interested in. And the platform is even better for business because it features buyable pins, which allows businesses to link their Pinterest posts with your e-commerce shops.
Buyable pins are special pins that let your customers purchase products without having to leave Pinterest. They are usually marked with blue price tags and an “add to bag” button, so they’re easier to spot and identify on Pinterest.
They also work well across desktop and mobile devices which means you can make sales whenever you’re ready to buy. Pinterest doesn’t take cuts from your sales either, and you still get to take care of customer support and shipping like you always have.
4. Invest on social media influencers
Social commerce campaigns won’t be complete without the aid of social influencers micro ones in particular. Forming relationships with popular people who are appropriate for your business niche helps you build credibility, attract a band of new followers, and even boost your sales revenue.
It’s a crucial marketing strategy that has seen an upward trend in the past years with 67% of companies being more willing to increase their spending on influencer marketing. Promoting products through social media influencers can help your social commerce strategy go a long way. Social commerce lets users see experiences and opinions of others when you talk about different brands.