Social media’s influence and immense popularity have built audiences with huge potential to shop through social platforms. As per Global Web Index report cited by Digital Information World, in 2018, the average time spent by global internet users per day on social media was approx. 142 minutes.
As social media’s influence is growing, social commerce is becoming a gradually important channel especially in online shopping. From the last few years, consumers are using social media to learn about brands & products, and find inspiration.
The term “social commerce” was presented back in the year 2005 by Yahoo! Social commerce refers to the activity of selling and buying on apps and social media sites. The ways in which social commerce is being implemented on specific platforms can vary. However, the key point is that purchases can be conducted wholly or partly within the social website or apps.
1. Advantages of Social Commerce
Firstly, in social commerce, it is significant to understand that it is the online retailers doing the selling and not the social media companies. With social commerce, customers can purchase products directly from the retailers without any or minimum need to interact directly with them.
Some of the examples include Instagram- digital price labels, Facebook- Shop Now, and Pinterest- Shop the Look. Recently, Instagram has given their users an option to checkout directly without any need to leave the application. It is expected that there will be a bigger rollout of Instagram features in the future.
Although social commerce is still in its initial stages, there are many companies who are still experimenting to enable selling and buying experience with the best methods through their platforms. For instance, Facebook is testing, executing, and terminating lots of new features.
Thus, it is hard to find out what exactly the complete social commerce experience will appear for users. As per Research Dive published report, there is a great opportunity for online retailers as the benefits offered by social commerce has propelled the growth of the social commerce market.
2. What is a Social Commerce Platform?
A social commerce platform is a social media platform where any business users or retailers can sell products. The “big three” retailers in the online industry are Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. On the other hand, Twitter has canceled features which allowed users to shop directly through site and app. However, it is likely to introduce new features in the future.
A significant amount of research regarding the activity of buying is not available because of the initial-stage nature of social commerce. Yet, early data is positive. For instance, around 60% of users say that they find products on Instagram. Also, a one-third of users are happy to make a purchase reliably through social media platforms.
A. How to Sell on Facebook
The buying and selling activity in Facebook is centered on Facebook Stores. These are native stores that can be accessed through fan pages and businesses.
The first step to start buying or selling on Facebook is to set up the store. The process can be streamlined easily, when using a well-known ecommerce platform like BigCommerce or Shopify. A number of automated integrations are available in this process for uploading the products.
Products once uploaded on the structured store, the products can be tagged in videos and posts, which enables users to click through the store and make a purchase from the store you’ve structured.
In most of the cases, rather than showcasing the entire catalog, stores are meant to showcase a selected product. Customers can easily navigate Facebook stores due to the organizational features like collections. However, these stores are not designed to handle widespread catalogs.
B. How to Sell on Pinterest
“Shopping Ads” and “Product Pins” are the main attributes of Pinterest. “Shop the Look” pins are a variant of Product Pins which can be used to advertise various products on a single image.
A business account is needed to be created and link it with your catalog of products. Images of products can be then displayed, along with the stock level and price. A call to action (CTA) that allows interested users to click through to your site will appear below the image.
The audience of Pinterest is made up of demographics, which are highly lucrative to ecommerce retailers, particularly in the fashion space. Thus, this platform is well worth exploring. According to Pinterest, around 80% of its users have made a purchase on the basis of existing content on their platform.
C. How to Sell on Instagram
The retailers get an option in Instagram to include links to products on their stories and posts.
Although, the features aren’t available in every part of the world. But if you’re in an English-speaking country, you are good to go. There is a certain criterion and a review stage where you have to meet some criteria, but, in essence, linking your business profile to your catalog is the main process involved, after which you can create shopping stories and posts.
The users will be taken to another mobile page when clicked “tags”. The tags include price and discount information which is linked to your ecommerce site.
When it comes to social commerce, as a platform, Instagram is experiencing momentous growth and activity. According to the most recent data study, every month, around 130 million Instagram users click on shopping tags.
3. Why Does Social Commerce Work?
There are many reasons that social commerce works for. Basically, it influences the fact that shopping is just a social activity.
Listed below are a few reasons that prove why social commerce is successful:
- Lessens friction related with online shopping – In social commerce, most of the users just have to click a few buttons without any need to input address or payment details, as it is already stored on the social media platform. The research phase is also shortened because the comment and reviews are directly visible next to the product.
- Allows online retailers to reach new markets – Social commerce is a viable long-term strategy, allowing the retailers to easily, speedily, and directly test new markets. For example, all over the world, Facebook is one of the best advertising platforms with unparalleled testing and targeting features.
- Creates buzz and chat around new products – A lot of excitement and buzz can be created while showcasing products directly to vocal potential customers.
- Allows retailers with streamlined stores to better meet customer needs – Tracking tools and in-depth analytics reports are provided by the social media platforms in order to modify their offerings to their audiences. On social media platforms, storefronts are much more limited as compared to the full ecommerce sites. Thus, retailers need to be selective while promoting the products. However, this can have a positive effect as retailers can provide only the most desired items that are armed with data about their social audience.
- Enables personalized consumer experiences like retargeting – Social media platforms such as Facebook have lots of personalization features like retargeting, which improves the efficacy of posts and ads.
- Enables to add another channel for consumers – There are a few customers who simply don’t like shopping on ecommerce stores. Social commerce allows retailers to reach them through their preferred outlet such as media applications.
When all of these practical benefits are coupled with the fact that social media is one of the most-favored sources of product reviews and the topmost resource for product research on the web.
4. How to Make Use of Social Media Platforms for Commerce
There is always a doubt on how you can design your own campaigns to get the maximum output?
Some of the few practical tips to keep in mind are as follows:
- Recognizing that social commerce works best when combined with other parts of social media strategies – A vigorous social media strategy engages users, provides compelling content and builds relationships. Social commerce is much more likely to be successful when built on the foundation of active and engaged users.
- Constantly test new features – One should test and pay attention to all the features related to shopping, which includes Shop the Lock Pins, Instagram story tags, and Facebook Messenger advertising. Staying updated for new releases, allows to hone in on the features that uplifts the highest level of engagement.
- Modernize with automation – Use technology to automate taka wherever it is possible. The Omni-channel ecommerce software is a must!
- Collaborate – Influencers epitomize great opportunities. When coupled with frictionless buying options, ROI can be very high. For instance, when an Instagram influencer shares a post with product links.
- Create gripping content – Content should provide a mix of product recommendations, practical value, and entertainment.
- Focus on your most user-relevant products – On social media, you have limited space to show products. Thus, focusing on proven products that you think your fans will find appealing can help.
Although social commerce is in its initial stages, but it is growing rapidly. Social commerce can boost the ecommerce conversion rate for retailers. Also, retailers who are set to benefit the most are the ones ready to get ahead of the curve.
Social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook provide you with unparalleled access to huge markets. Essentially, all retailers should be able to come up with a manageable and cost-effective social commerce strategy.