Why Should You Invest In Social Commerce?
30th March 2021
Our last article Social Commerce Vs eCommerce focused on defining social commerce, the rise of social commerce and the most established and credible platforms. During the below article we look at what the future of social commerce has to hold, plus why retailers should invest in social commerce as part of an online commerce strategy.
The Future Of Social Commerce
Due to the fast-paced nature of innovation and change associated with social media, predicting what we’ll see next can be difficult. What we do know is that it’s definitely here to stay, and is likely to go from strength to strength in line with the release of new technologies and platforms. The impact of COVID-19 has seen an increase in online commerce across the board, with businesses looking for more online activity. It is clear that good performance from recent investment in ecommerce capabilities will mean companies such as Facebook (and therefore Instagram too) will continue to invest heavily in this area. Further investment by platforms and retailers alike will contribute to helping consumers make the leap from ‘like’ to ‘buy’ as consumer confidence grows with buying through social media platforms.
Customisation and personalisation are becoming increasingly important to consumers and being able to have a conversation with a brand plays a big part in this. Presenting consumers with limited options, static information and generic deals is no longer acceptable on any platform, let alone social media, which is synonymous with conversational dialogue. Because of this, chatbots will be used more widely throughout the customer journey. From chatbot checkouts being used regularly, consumers becoming more confident conversing with chatbots to help them through payments, direct them to more personalised deals and for after-sales service.
Merchants need to offer a seamless user experience and payment process, ensuring that buying on social platforms merely becomes another form of social behaviour. Video will play a dominating role, with further emphasis on consumers being able to purchase products mid-video. Supported by influencers, who are already a key driver of online purchases, but will play more of a predominant role moving forwards, the confidence of buying straight from videos will grow.
AI will become intertwined with social commerce, helping people buy from user-generated content. For example, someone buys tiles, fits them in their kitchen and shares a picture of the finished product. The AI will recognise the tiles and if in stock, present consumers with the option to buy the tiles straight from the user-generated content.
In the near future, social commerce will see the further introduction of new technologies to aid the buying and selling process, including integration with smart speakers, virtual reality, augmented reality, gamification and more.
As social commerce becomes more widely accepted by consumers, there will be increased volumes in the number of transactions taking place on social media platforms. This will be most notable around key shopping dates in the calendar such as Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when consumers are actively researching and discussing products, looking for deals and discounts and ultimately in buyer mode.
Why Invest In Social Commerce?
The top five reasons to invest in social commerce are:
- An Active Audience - There are over 3.6 billion people using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025. Being presented with such a large active audience is almost impossible to ignore for any commerce outfit with growth aspirations. This is particularly true when considering the Gen Z population, who are a maturing audience with increased spending power, and who are online, primed and ready to shop as they scroll. If you want to maximise your online commerce opportunities, it makes sense to operate where your consumers are already active and spend a lot of their time. Social commerce stimulates shopping for convenience, as part of exploration and discussion and as part of entertainment as it's a much more natural extension of existing consumer behaviour.
- Social Shopping Era - With consumers turning to smartphones to shop, we are entering an era of online and social shopping, with the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerating this. Social commerce makes shopping a social experience, by being far more interactive than traditional ecommerce. Consumers can consult their closest contacts on brands and products, give or receive recommendations, collaborate on creating certain looks or collections of products and most importantly have fun whilst shopping from the comfort of their own homes. The interactive and consultative opportunities for businesses are invaluable.
- Frictionless User Journey - Every stage of the purchasing process is an opportunity for consumers to change their minds. Giving your customers the option to buy at the exact moment they realise they want to purchase will ultimately increase conversion rates. Social commerce can remove friction from your consumer’s user journey by facilitating the easy movement from discovery to purchase. Having to click through ads to a website, the loading time associated with this, re-selecting desired products and navigating an unfamiliar checkout process including the entering of card details are all potential barriers to a sale, which as removed by social media platforms, provide a quick, effortless user journey and reduce sales drop-offs.
- Remaining Competitive - If your competitors are operating in the social commerce space and you are not, this will be a lost opportunity and you may also be leaking market share. It’s important for you to be there, at best, as a way of staying ahead of your competitors, but at worst, ensuring you aren’t lagging behind. Businesses that are quick to understand the principles of social commerce will inevitably drive more sales than those who aren’t.
- Instant Feedback - Getting timely feedback on products and services can be vital to success. If you have your catalogue on social media, you will be told by your customers what they think of your products, whether you like it or not. This can help with future advertising, reduce costs of gathering feedback elsewhere and aid new product development or existing product modifications. Having two-way dialogues privately in DMs or in public on the comments throughout the consumers buying journey can lead to less forced and therefore skewed customer responses and help provide a more personalised customer service.
Social commerce remains a dynamic field, with regular new entrants to the market redefining the way social media is used and perceived by businesses and consumers. The introduction of new technologies will continue to shape the market, creating new opportunities to interact with and sell to consumers. The emergence of influencers, their growing reach and their impact on purchasing decisions has become almost essential for retailers wanting to remain competitive when selling online, which most merchants can ill-afford to ignore.
Social commerce will continue to transform the online shopping experience, meeting changing and more demanding consumer expectations, with consumers wanting to shop on their terms. Convenience, ease of use, customisation and personalisation is why social commerce will remain a pivotal force in online commerce in future years.
The key to success with social commerce is more than simply being on the platforms or even keeping track of new innovations and technologies. To satisfy a new generation of digitally-savvy consumers, merchants need to offer a connected experience across a myriad of touchpoints, using social commerce as one avenue in a truly omnichannel experience.
If you are a retailer and want to know how your business can capitalise on the many opportunities presented by social commerce, please do get in touch with us at SilverDisc to discuss your targets and how we can help you acheive them.