Ecommerce businesses need to be ready to meet customer expectations and that must now include understanding how social commerce is changing the boundaries.
Social media continues to adapt and evolve and there are now opportunities to create seamless ecommerce experiences directly on social channels.
Where users once shared simple text-based updates and images there is now high-quality visual content. Newer players like TikTok have taken this trend even further, with easy content creation, sharing, and viewing while WeChat, WhatsApp and Messenger are all offering enhanced one-to-one communication experiences.
Now these trends are taking social media channels beyond chats with friends and family to provide opportunities to browse and buy products in different digital environments.
What is social commerce?
BigCommerce says social commerce sells products directly through social media channels with the ability to checkout directly within the network.
You can create seamless ecommerce experiences directly within popular social channels, capturing the buying power of micro moments.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic accelerated ecommerce growth trends, including changes in consumer behavior that embrace cross-channel buying.
Social commerce in 2021
There are a number of good reasons to take advantage of the opportunities offered by social commerce, whatever your market sector.
Social media channels can now be used as discovery engines for your business and products. Users are looking for inspiration from brands, as well as opinions from friends and influencers. You can benefit from reviews and user generated content.
Reducing friction in the buying journey by allowing users to buy without being redirected to your ecommerce site increases your sales opportunities. When you provide a high-quality, consistent experience that supports your brand you will build a loyal customer base.
Optimize your social commerce opportunities
Product choice – rather than being driven by an intention to buy, a visit to your Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest page is normally a leisure activity. However, while users might not be looking to make important high-value purchasing decisions you can tempt them with popular lower-cost products that already perform well in your physical stores or on your ecommerce site. Visa found that almost a fifth of UK shoppers have already used social media apps to make purchases.
Once your customer has made their first purchase, you can follow-up with a request for their email address so that they can receive further information and offers in future. Then they can become part of your ongoing email marketing, providing you with the opportunity to make higher value sales.
Facebook Shop – you might already have a Facebook business page, making the move to social commerce straightforward. Facebook Shops can be customized, so you can create a tailored experience that reflects your brand. You can choose your own fonts, colours and imagery, and even import an existing catalog of products from your website.
You can also connect with customers using other Facebook platforms and use WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram to answer questions or offer support.
Facebook launched a Business Suite app in September 2020 to make it easier for users to manage their pages and profiles across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. You can control updates, draft and schedule posts for both Facebook and Instagram, view insights, and create ads.
Instagram Shop – people who relate to powerful imagery are attracted to Instagram. The platform says that 70% of people discover new products there and almost 90% have been inspired to buy by influencers.
If there’s a strong visual element to your product then selling on Instagram is worth consideration. You will need a Facebook Shop to allow your Instagram Shop to pull data from your Facebook catalog. You can create a customized storefront to showcase product collections and ranges. Shopping tags can highlight products in both Instagram Stories and your newsfeed, increasing opportunities for them to be seen and bought.
Pinterest – like Instagram, Pinterest is visually appealing, so it’s a good option to showcase products that can be presented in interesting ways. Since over 80% of Pins are actually repins, it’s also a good way to broaden your audience.
Pinterest has offered buyable pins since 2015, allowing brands to add a buy button.
Starting with Shopify, partnerships for buyable Pins with Demandware, IBM, BigCommerce, and Magento were added in 2016, followed a few months later with the addition of a shopping cart allowing multiple purchases from different suppliers.
‘Chat commerce’ – personalization and more ‘human’ engagement improve customer experiences. Customers also want round-the-clock interaction and don’t want to wait for a response.
You can already implement a ‘conversational commerce’ solution successfully using automated social commerce chatbots. Messenger apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct Messages make it a realistic option.
Chatbots provide answers to simple questions for your customers quickly. They can also save you time and money when dealing with the most common queries.
A Facebook survey found that more than half of customers said they’re more likely to shop with a business that they can connect with via chat.
Jumper.ai offers a pre-built automated checkout chatbot which can be running within minutes. With a range of native integrations, it can be used across almost all social platforms.