Social commerce – the amalgamation of e-commerce and social media – is a relatively new idea where social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat team up with e-commerce providers such as Shopify and Squarespace to create an integrated e-commerce experience.
You may have noticed that you are now able to buy some products directly from Instagram pages or through your Pinterest feed – this is social commerce, and it is very quickly taking over your social feeds.
THE MAJORS PLAYERS IN SOCIAL COMMERCE
Social commerce is rapidly growing in popularity and many social media platforms are beginning to adopt it in some form. But, as with anything, some companies are placing a larger emphasis on it than others.
Facebook was one of the earliest players in the social commerce market, introducing the Facebook Marketplace in 2007.
Their social commerce initiatives remained quite low-key for a few years but, since 2014, the social media giant has gone to great lengths in expanding them. In 2014, the ‘Buy’ button was introduced, Messenger payments were added to the platform in 2015 and in late 2017, eBay daily deals started to be promoted on users’ newsfeed.
Although Instagram is owned by Facebook, the platform only recently started introducing social commerce elements to it. In June 2015 the ‘Shop Now’ feature was introduced.
More recently, Shopify’s Instagram integration was released which allows people to sell items from their store directly through Instagram.
Twitter’s social commerce initiative started off with ‘sales alerts’, where companies such as Dell – who earned $3M through Twitter – would target Twitter users and advertise their sale in June 2009.
It was not until five years later – in September 2014 – when Twitter introduced their ‘Buy Now’ feature which was further expanded upon in September 2015.
Pinterest is not quite as popular as Facebook or Instagram – instead of appealing to a creative audience – but that hasn’t stopped them from cashing in on social commerce.
In March 2016, the website introduced buyable ‘Pins’ and then added a shopping cart three months later. In September 2017, Target partnered up with Pinterest in an exclusive deal.
IS SOCIAL COMMERCE IMPORTANT?
Many people may disregard social commerce as an unnecessary way to over-complicate what is essentially just a way to purchase things through social media.
However, we are increasingly reliant on accessing customer service representatives through social media.
It is very uncommon for any major company not to have some form of social media team who are on-hand to answer customer queries and complaints.
It is no surprise then that almost 9/10 consumers admit that social media helps them decide whether or not to purchase an item. It is clear why this is the case, considering that, again, 9/10 consumers reach out to their favourite brands on social media.
Positive reviews from other consumers matter, too. Positive reviews can massively improve a consumer’s perception of a brand, and this can bump up the products price by as much as 10%!
SOCIAL COMMERCE IS A SERIOUS BUSINESS…
It may not be the most widely-known aspect of e-commerce, but social commerce has brought in a serious amount of revenue for Facebook and Instagram, who earned $10.1B and $4B respectively in 2017 from advertising.
It is easy to see why companies are so willing to plough money into social advertising because it turns over serious money. The average order value on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are $65, $55 and $50 respectively.
…BUT, IT IS ONLY JUST BEGINNING
Social commerce has a huge role to play as consumers begin to shift their buying habits over to their smartphones.
Moving towards buy buttons taking pride of place in social platforms is only natural and was bound to happen; people are always demanding a more seamless and secure shopping experience.
Not only that, as the social media allow for a much more informed shopping as well. Reviews and comments from peers give a more realistic idea whether the advertised product is worth it or not. Staying tuned in to the right feeds or groups also increases the chance to benefit from temporary offers and discounts thanks to the powerful word of mouth sharing most social platforms are so suited for.
Popular websites and services have become ‘appified’ in that they are used more and more often through mobile devices, as opposed to the traditional means of using them through your desktop or laptop computer.
Because of this, it is very important that industry-leading brands offer a seamless shopping experience across all channels their customers frequently use and indeed rely on daily.
This means that we are bound to see an increase in social commerce being utilised more and more by companies large and small.