Social media is not just a brand’s voice anymore. It is rapidly becoming a platform where consumers interact with their trusted brands, go for inspiration and, ultimately, shop. There’s no sign of this slowing down. According to Insider Intelligence, it is estimated that the “U.S. retail social commerce sales will rise by 24.9% to $45.74 billion in 2022” and will continue to grow to $1.2 Trillion by 2025. This is a tremendous opportunity for brands to reach their customers and to increase engagement with their audiences by tapping into social commerce which will improve a brand’s return on investment.
Brands of all verticals, large or small, new or vintage need to adjust to the way consumers are shopping and adapt to social commerce as a survival strategy. “Social commerce is the new interface of e-commerce,” and is worth half a trillion dollars and will ultimately be the “backbone of the customer experience.” – Etienne Merineau founder, Heyday.
E-COMMERCE’S EVOLUTION TO SOCIAL COMMERCE
What is the difference between e-commerce and social commerce? E-Commerce is simply online shopping either through a website or a 3rd party app like (but not limited to) Shopify or Amazon. Once a viewer engages with a digital ad or an email marketing campaign or organically, they go through a multi-step process to buy the item they want. This process creates more steps in the purchase journey, which then poses a high risk for the consumer losing interest and the potential purchase. Social commerce, which we’ll dive deeper into later, brings the store to the customer on a social platform on which they are already engaged. This allows the customer to checkout directly via on the platform they’re on, making the purchase process frictionless for both the buyer and retailer.
WHAT IS SOCIAL COMMERCE?
Social Commerce is being able to sell products through social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest all without leaving the platform. This is a place where customers can do their brand research, discover new products as well as make a direct purchase in-app or in-platform. It cuts the middleman out. The traditional social media strategy involves the consumer seeing a product ad, clicking on it taking them to the website, where they then have a multi-step check-out process. It streamlines the process of going through multiple steps and instead, makes the user experience direct, faster, and better for the consumer. This translates into revenue for the advertiser. Social Commerce creates an ease of transactions and a seamless shopping experience that benefits both the brand and the consumer.
As social commerce continues to grow, there are several features and tools to help brands become successful such as tapping into stronger CTA (call-to-action) buttons, Shoppable Stories and Posts, Storefronts, Product Tagging and Live Shopping Events, to name a few opportunities. These are all benefits that will help shape your customer relationships and to grow a stronger, loyal audience, which will improve your overall brand’s bottom line — revenue.
SOCIAL STOREFRONT FEATURES & BENEFITS
- Call-to-action buttons matter at all stages a customer is in. It paints the “yellow brick road” from discovery of your brand or product through the interest of browsing and through the end of their journey, which is to make a purchase. The “yellow brick road” tells the customer what to do, where to go and paints the path to checkout. Advertisers need to understand their messaging and utilize the proper CTA at the right time. If the customer is in the interest/browsing stage, the CTA should be “Shop Now” instead of “Buy Now.” It is important to test your CTAs to see what resonates with your audience and what performs better. CTAs are very important as they dictate what you’re telling your customer to do and will increase a higher return on investment.
- Shoppable Stories and Posts allow viewers to shop featured products directly from Stories or Posts by tapping on the tagged products directly on screen which then prompts them with a link that brings you to that product. Shoppable Stories and Posts help businesses drive sales and revenue through this engaged shopping experience. There are more than 400 million users who are active on Instagram stories which would be a missed opportunity to engage with your audience through that placement. Shoppable Stories/posts deliver value by awareness and conversation which drives more sales and revenue. Consumers love instant gratification and shoppable stories and posts allow users to discover new products and engage with a “click to buy” button; it’s a great solution to tap into modernized social commerce.
“More than 130 million accounts on Instagram tap on a shopping post”- states Instagram, reporting on a monthly basis, which is why brands should take advantage of this opportunity and optimize their account to allow for shopping. Shoppable posts have the same look and feel as a regular post except they have a “shopping bag” icon on the lower left corner which informs the viewer that there are products that are tagged (like tagging a friend) and that you can purchase them.
Key Benefits of Shoppable Stories and posts:
- Storytelling = engagement
- Influencers – UGC creates trust and promotes an authentic promotion of products and brands
- CTAs drive a big role in consumer action, so Shoppable “stickers” are a must; viewers can see tagged products that are available
Shoppable Stories and Post Platforms:
- Picture Social Storefronts as a Brick-and-Mortar store but digitally through social media networks. It allows the brand to showcase their store by engaging with their followers with the opportunity to turn them into customers. Brands need to take advantage of where their customers are and how they’re making purchases. Social Storefronts lets customers shop within a social network without ever leaving the platform. It keeps the “store” within the platform which allows for quicker purchases and reduces website bounce rate and abandoned carts. It is a way to keep people within platform and to make direct purchases. HubSpot said that “71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.” This shows that people trust the brands they follow and are making purchases via social media.
Brands use the catalog feature on their platforms as their virtual storefront where visitors can view products just like on a website, but all within the platform and without leaving. Shopify predicts 59.4 million Facebook buyers will make a purchase through a social platform in 2022.
“TikTok predicts to hit 48.8 million US users by 2025, beating Instagram’s 48.2 million users. 39% of those users have discovered a product or brand they didn’t know before and half of those have made a purchase on the app.” It became so popular for new brand and product discovery that people created and started to use #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt which has received over a billion views. “ – Shopify
- Live Shopping Events feature is the new modernized Info Commercial. It is used for engagement and provides customers with an interactive shoppable experience. “Consumers are warming up to live shopping, with 47% of online shoppers noting that they would buy products directly from live videos, and brands of all sizes are finding success,” – Facebook. Live Shopping Events is a great way to tell the brand’s story and to showcase products in a personalized, intimate in real-time setting. It allows for the viewers to ask questions which increases engagements and drives conversions. It eliminates cart abandonment and increases customer satisfaction since they can interact with the Live Shopping Event.
- Real-time purchases
- Digitalized Brick-and-Mortar Stores
- Creates awareness and engagement for the brand and product
- Utilize marketing influencers as hosts
- Compelling call-to-actions
- Customized branding (adding logos, overlays, backgrounds)
- Product Launches
- Q&A Sessions
- Reach audiences across platforms at the same time
- Impulse Buying
- Boost sales for underperforming products
- Live Shopping will generate 11 Billion USD
Platforms that support Live Shopping Events:
- Facebook Live Shopping
- Instagram Live Shopping
- Amazon Live
In today’s competitive climate, companies need to invest in social commerce. Brands are eliminating the middleman and focusing on direct consumer purchases within social media platforms. They are shifting their consumers to a direct checkout page versus their website in a 3+ step checkout process. “Brands continue to leverage social media checkout and shopping integrations, tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Zers, who are familiar with and motivated by influencer content, will likely engage with social commerce more often,”- Insider Intelligence. Social Commerce is the future of e-commerce and brands need to adapt or they will be missing out on massive opportunities. Brands need to adjust where their audience is and fuel them with visual-heavy content that leads to an easy, streamlined purchase.