Featured image - Retail checklist article #2 - Social commerce
By helloDarwin
August 10, 2021

What is social commerce?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the role of online commerce in consumers’ buying behaviour has never been so important. But the trend towards online shopping isn’t just an increase in website traffic and sales; the number of users on social media—and the time spent on social media platforms—has also increased.
And the social media giants have been paying attention! Many now offer businesses the chance to sell their products and services directly on their platforms via social commerce tools.
With the global market for social commerce estimated at US$89.4 billion in 2020 and projected to reach US$604.5 billion by 2027, the opportunity to make sales and develop your business using social media are endless. Wondering how to grow your business using social media? We’ve got you covered! Read on for social commerce 101.

What is social e-commerce? Social commerce defined

Social commerce is the process of selling products or services directly on social media. It’s the best of e-commerce combined with social media savvy. From initial product/service discovery to final purchase, including the add-to-cart and payment process, everything now can—and does!—take place directly on social media platforms. 
The global market for social commerce estimated at US$89.4 billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$604.5 billion by 2027.
With this model, the shopping experience is free from disruption, as users are encouraged to complete the entire purchase process without ever leaving their favorite app! Popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest now offer this functionality to businesses.
Learn how to adapt to the new realities of retail with the help of this actionable e-commerce checklist.

Why social commerce? (Why should your brand care?)

“Why should I use social commerce features if I’m already redirecting customers to my website through my social media posts and ads?” If you still need some convincing, here are just a few of the reasons why you should consider using social commerce:

1. Social commerce removes friction

See a product ad on social media, and click on it; land on the brand’s website, and fill up your cart; fill out your payment and shipping info, and finally make the purchase. That’s the (ideal) path for users who aren’t offered a social commerce experience. Bit long, isn’t it?
Social commerce removes all this friction from the consumer journey, making it easy for consumers to move directly from discovery to purchase. See it, click it, buy it. The whole process takes place directly on the social media platform and everyone wins; the consumer saves time, and you miss out on fewer opportunities!

2. Social commerce is optimized for mobile

Mobile sales are expected to account for 72.9% of all retail e-commerce sales in 2021, up from 59.9% in 2017. And about 83% of social media usage is on a mobile device, compared to 15% from desktops or tablets. With numbers like that, we don’t need to tell you how crucial social commerce is—and will continue to be moving forward. With social commerce, you can make your customers’ lives easier and maximize your chances of reaching mobile users!

3. Social commerce speaks to younger audiences

Even if everyone and their grandma has a profile on social media apps these days, it’s millennials and Gen Z who are the most active and engaged. Gen Z are the first generation of true Digital Natives, having never known a time when you couldn’t FaceTime family, “follow” one another, or order takeout online. They’re completely at home with social commerce, with the vast majority (97%) of Gen Z consumers saying they now use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration.
If your business sells products or services targeted at these younger demographics, then you should get into social commerce right away!

4. Social commerce offers instant market research

The primary function of social media is to facilitate interactions between users. So, what better way to gather online feedback on your products or services than through social media?
Even if most websites have some way for customers to leave a review after purchase, social media enables users to exchange information on every product in existence, whether before or after purchase—a real gold mine for you that will help you better understand your customers’ opinions and expectations.

Social commerce vs e-commerce: What's the difference between social commerce, e-commerce, and social selling?

While social commerce and e-commerce have many things in common, it’s still important to understand the ways in which they’re different. E-commerce is the process of buying and selling products or services online through a website or brand application. Social commerce also refers to an online shopping experience, but without the need to redirect users to your website (since everything is done directly within social media platforms).
E-commerce is a crucial part of a successful online commerce strategy, but selling via your website shouldn’t be the only string to your bow. In 2020, mobile devices accounted for 68% of web traffic and 56% of online sales. When it comes to e-commerce and social commerce, it’s not a question of either-or; the reality is that you need both. And since shopping on mobile has a slightly higher cart abandonment rate than on desktop (70% desktop vs 85% on mobile), social commerce—which removes the friction from the shopping journey—appears to be an ideal solution to avoid missing any opportunities.
Social commerce is also different from social selling—where a brand uses its social channels to connect and engage with potential prospects (concentrating more on relationship building). Social commerce streamlines the entire shopping experience with the goal of generating sales. 

What are the best social media platforms for social commerce?

Since social commerce is fairly new, platforms that offer this feature can still be counted on the fingers of one hand. But with current trends in online sales and new consumer behaviors, you can expect to see more and more social networks offering the "buy now" option. 
Here are some of the platforms that offer social commerce: 
Facebook and Instagram
With the two social media behemoths now linked, you can manage your Facebook and Instagram shops in one place. These stores are like a real online showcase for your products and services. 
Even if the platform doesn't offer a social commerce solution per se, Pinterest still allows you to pin products to your business page. A great way to showcase your products and redirect those consumers looking for inspiration to your website.
The list isn't very long yet, but as mentioned earlier, the new normal regarding online shopping behaviour—especially through social media—will most likely prompt other major social media platforms to jump on board. Keep your eyes open! :)
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