The Future of eCommerce is Social: Demystifying the Social Commerce Revolution

16th May, 2022

 

By Pranaya

Social commerce is the selling of goods and services within a social media platform. Brands use social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter to promote and sell products. These platforms have become an integral part of consumers’ everyday life because they continue to engage users with relatable content, making them scroll their feeds for hours. 

The Social Commerce model capitalizes on this high user engagement & moves social media beyond its traditional role in the top-of-the-funnel marketing process by encouraging users to shop without leaving their preferred apps. According to the Social Media Investment Report, 91% of executives agree that social commerce is driving an increasing portion of their marketing revenue, and 85% report that social data will be a primary source of business intelligence.

Let’s talk a little bit about why brands should consider selling via social media platforms:

Social Commerce vs. eCommerce vs. QCommerce

While they may fall under the same umbrella of online selling, social commerce, quick commerce, and eCommerce are three very different concepts

  • eCommerce refers to online shopping via a (retailer or brand) website or app. Customers can access these platforms via desktop or mobile devices. However, the sales funnel generally looks the same. These brands and retailers use top-of-the-funnel tactics like social media content, digital ads, and other marketing strategies to encourage customers to visit the online store. There are three main types of eCommerce businesses: Business-to-Business (Alibaba, Amazon Business, eWorldTrade), Business-to-Consumer (websites such as Amazon, Rakuten, and Zalando), and Consumer-to-Consumer (platforms such as eBay & Etsy).
  • Quick Commerce (or QCommerce) refers to eCommerce businesses that deliver goods within a couple of hours or even minutes. Although it’s sometimes used interchangeably with on-demand delivery or instant commerce, the idea of quick commerce has been around in the food industry for ages now. It has been recently ushered into the mainstream by evolving consumer preferences for quicker delivery of groceries and FMCG goods.
  • Social commerce brings the store to the customer rather than redirecting customers to an online store. It removes unnecessary steps and simplifies the buying process by letting the customer checkout directly through social media platforms, creating a frictionless buying journey for the customer. Additionally, social media platforms are mobile-friendly, a huge benefit for brands because increasingly more and more customers are accessing the internet through mobile devices.
Social Commerce
Social Commerce

Rise of Social Commerce

First used in 2005 by Yahoo!, ‘social commerce’ refers to collaborative shopping tools such as user ratings, shared pick lists, and user-generated content. Social media networks snowballed throughout the 2000s and 2010s, alongside a general increase in eCommerce, leading customers and merchants to quickly recognize the benefits of buying and selling through social media networks. Social media platforms have since evolved from merely a showcase tool for brands. They now serve as virtual storefronts and extensions of a company’s website or brick and mortar stores, capable of handling the buying experience.

Top Social Commerce Platforms

Social media platforms aim to keep visitors engaged on their platforms for as long as possible. Increased time in-app or on-site maximizes their opportunity to serve ads, a primary source of revenue generation. Social media platforms have millions of active users and they have a great power to help companies and individuals build their brands, interact with consumers, and support after-sales. Here are the top social commerce platforms:

  • Facebook

Facebook introduced Facebook Shops to capitalize on the commercial opportunity by allowing vendors to advertise and sell directly through the platform. Facebook integrates social commerce with shopping, allowing users to purchase products smoothly. Facebook shops offer a smooth user experience where users can review products and get recommendations from trusted acquaintances. Customers can directly interact with the merchant’s customer service department post-purchase. 

  • Instagram

60% of people discover new products on Instagram. Owned by Facebook, Instagram facilitates in-app shopping and handles the entire transactions within the app itself. Users scrolling on Instagram often wants to follow trends and replicate the looks of their role models or favorite influencers. By offering purchasing options in the app, Instagram benefits from the platform’s rich visual imagery and videos, allowing businesses to sell an idea rather than the traditional process of selling a product. 

  • TikTok

Shopify partnered with TikTok to introduce shopping and drive sales through the younger and seemingly ever-expanding TikTok audience. With TikTok for Business Ads Manager, brands and merchants can create in-feed video-based content depending on their product offering. This partnership allows Shopify merchants to expand to the TikTok audience.

  • Snapchat

Snapchat has recently launched Brand profiles, a feature that allows users to scroll through a merchant’s products and buy them in-app. This new experience is powered by Shopify too. Merchants can create Brand Profiles or Native Stores that allow users to purchase products from the app. 

Pinterest users are there for Shopping Inspiration
Pinterest users are there for Shopping Inspiration
  • Pinterest

Pinterest is also an image-based platform where users create boards of their favorite wedding accessories, home decor, fashion trends, etc. Pinterest doesn’t specifically offer social commerce for the global audience. Rather, it allows business accounts to create ‘Product Pins’ that are displayed in the brand’s Pinterest shop. Only U.S. customers can purchase within the app. Users from other countries are redirected to the eCommerce site to complete the sale. We have added Pinterest to this list because 89% of Pinterest users are there for shopping inspiration.

Pinterest is an image-based platform where users create boards
Pinterest is an image-based platform where users create boards

Why Should Brands Care About Social Commerce

  • To enhance social media presence and brand awareness

If your target demographic is in the 18-to-34 age range, they’re already on social media and waiting to shop while they scroll. According to Sprout Social, over 68% of consumers have already purchased directly from social media and nearly all (98%) consumers plan to make at least one purchase through social or influencer commerce this year. You can enhance brand awareness by selling on social media platforms. Influencer marketing is an amazing way to build brand awareness since customers are now seeking authenticity from micro-influencers rather than big-name celebrities. 

  • To generate social proof

90% of online shoppers say that they read online reviews before making an online purchase. Whether it’s an automated follow-up email or a message through the social media platform, ask for a review after your product has been delivered to the customer. You can also offer incentives like a contest to encourage previous customers to weigh in and share their experiences. These steps will allow you to collect social proof since it’s vital to build a positive reputation online. You can also ask customers to create small product review videos that you can share on your social feeds in creative ways. You can also post user-generated content, create a carousel of positive comments, or host a live video with happy customers.

Social Proof
Social Proof
  • To simplify the buying process for consumers

Traditional eCommerce involves several steps. It starts with displaying ads on social media platforms and customers being redirected to the business website for completing the transaction. To complete the transaction, customers also have to create an account or manually fill in the credit card details and delivery address. On the other hand, social is only a three-step process — find, click and buy. 

Counterfeit Products
Counterfeit Products

Conclusion

While social commerce is proliferating, it also has a few setbacks like the rise of counterfeit products. Counterfeiting has expanded into social media and has become an under-reported but vital hub for counterfeiters. A counterfeit detection solution can help brands and merchants identify & remove fake and unauthorized products. Technologies like image recognition can help in counterfeit detection by capturing fake logos and discrepancies. Removing counterfeit products will help brands safeguard customer loyalty and prevent fake products from harming your bottom line. 

Here’s how DataWeave helped Classic Accessories, a leading manufacturer of high-quality furnishings & accessories identify counterfeit products across multiple retail marketplace websites eliminating 22 hours of time spent per week conducting manual audits – read the case study here

Are you a brand or a retailer worried about counterfeits? Sign up for a demo with our team to know how we can help you track, identify and eliminate fakes! 

- Pranaya Mohanty
Pranaya Mohanty is a Digital Marketer at Dataweave and a Social Media enthusiast with expert insights on eCommerce marketing & D2C growth strategies., 16th May, 2022

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