Online shopping received a serious bump in 2020. So did its offshoot, social commerce. In fact, among the strongest trends in the e-commerce industry, making purchases from social platforms seems to be the one to watch due to its projected year-over-year sales bump of 35 percent.
It only makes sense that people would start using social media to not only find and explore items, but also to buy them. After all, social platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok have taken on a digital “hangout” role, especially for younger audiences. Being able to snag a deal without leaving a favored platform removes barriers and increases convenience.
Social commerce isn’t just attractive because it’s easy for consumers, though. It’s also exciting because it can replicate the feelings elicited during in-store shopping — but virtually. Consumers can interact with brands in real time through likes, comments, direct messages (DMs) and chatbots. They can also share their “finds” with followers, creating opportunities for retailers to enjoy organic cross-pollination.
From the retailer’s perspective, social commercemakes just as much sense — particularly for companies in tangible product categories like electronics, apparel, home decorations, jewelry, and cosmetics. Why? The business basically has a built-in pipeline to consumers without the need for a physical location. Additionally, most brands already have a social presence. Therefore, adding social e-commerce into the mix by using Facebook Shops, Instagram Shops, or a third-party integration doesn’t involve a giant leap or learning curve.
Crafting Your Own Social Commerce Strategy
Nevertheless, brands shouldn’t underestimate the need to map out their social commerce strategies. Those new to this burgeoning e-commerce trendwill want to apply several best practices to drive conversions:
- Align the unique brand experience across platforms. Every brand has its own aesthetic and target market appeal that should stretch across all real and online interfaces, including social commerce portals. Businesses must take time to customize their social shops and plot out relevant buyer interactions. This ensures that consumers will feel “at home” with the brand — whether they’re on the brand’s website or in its social shopping store.
- Choose social commerce sites selectively. Practically every social media giant offers openings for e-commerce in some capacity. However, not every platform is right for every audience. Companies should plan to test social media platforms and gauge performance rates based on buyer personas. For example, the age of TikTok users tends to skew toward Generation Z, whereas boomers favor Facebook. Picking the right platform is necessary to ensure sales.
- Turn up the novelty factor to 11. Brands need to keep the social component in social commerce. Why? It’s what’s missing in too many online shopping exchanges. Glossier CEO Emily Weiss put it best when she noted that Amazon.com “really solved buying, but it killed shopping in the process.” Consequently, companies should encourage one-to-one conversations, answer questions, elicit feedback, try video, and aim for fun entertainment — not just clicks.
- Elicit and leverage datasets. An additional advantage to selling on social is the instant availability of untold amounts of data. Brands can make use of incoming consumer feedback to analyze and utilize e-commerce trends with the help of the right technology or partner. Staying on top of early changes in consumer behavior (as indicated through data analysis) can save time and resources down the road, as well as inform effective tweaks.
Neither social media nor e-commerce are going anywhere. How could they? The internet is where plenty of people spend hours each day. Brands that live alongside consumers on social can position themselves to better woo shoppers interested in making digital purchases, not to mention stay on the leading edge of a billion-dollar e-commerce trend.
Elise Stieferman is the director of client strategy and development at Coegi, an all-in-one premium marketing partner for media professionals seeking a streamlined way to leverage programmatic and social solutions.
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