The Growth of Social Commerce

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e-commerce, social commerce
Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

Big investments are being made to improve the social shopping experience.

In September of 2019, we published a brief post on the importance of social commerce and why retailers should start looking at integrating it into their customer journey.

That seems like a lifetime ago.

The last year and a half has propelled digital ahead by more than seven years, and social commerce has come along for the ride. Insider Intelligence forecasted that US social commerce sales would rise by 34.8% (up from 19.8%, which was initially predicted) to $36.09 billion this year, representing 4.3% of all retail e-commerce sales.

With the seismic shifts in consumer behaviour, we thought it was important to re-visit this growing sales channel and look at how its trends have shifted.

Social Chatbots
Because social media is built on engagement, it’s no surprise that users expect that same level of attention when purchasing on social channels. Most businesses don’t have the resources to deliver 1:1 support for their customers. And that’s where chatbots come in.

According to HubSpot, 40% of consumers are indifferent about whether or not they’re served by a bot or a person – as long as they get the support they need. Having chatbots available as the first line of defence can help address the quick and easy questions coming from customers and help them get one step closer to a purchase.

Low-Priced Products
Social commerce has always been a great place for low price (and therefore low risk) items to sell on social and this trend is expected to continue through 2021 and 2022. Because social commerce is the perfect platform for impulse purchases, low-cost items tend to perform better because they don’t necessarily require research and/or the need to be seen in person.
And because social commerce is still considered to be “new” by a lot of consumers, they’re more likely to try it out on items that they consider to be low risk.

Livestreaming Commerce
One of the most prominent trends to come out of the pandemic was the rise of the live stream. Companies now use live streaming to showcase new products, provide step-by-step tutorials, facilitate product demonstrations and live chats with influencers and/or spokespeople.

Live streaming allows viewers to interact with a company in a more intimate setting and also enables the company to answer questions live. It’s a more authentic and interactive experience – and it also pays off. According to Wordstream, companies that use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.

Augmented Reality
71% of consumers say they would shop more frequently if they used Augmented Reality.
One of the more interesting Social Commerce trends to come to the forefront in the last few years is augmented reality.

AR has the unique ability to showcase details about the look and feel of a product that traditional photos just can’t compete with. With AR, customers can make confident buying decisions, which leads to increased satisfaction and strong customer loyalty.

User-Generated Content
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to build brand identity and trust among customers. Brands can leverage UGC by using already engaged customers to help drive more sales without actually spending any money on advertising. Using a loyal customer base to build a strong community for the brand will help buyers feel confident they are hearing directly from the source before making a purchase.

If you’re still new to social commerce and wondering if it’s right for your business? Take a read through our original post below: “What is Social Commerce? And why should companies care?”

Have you ever found yourself up at 2 am, scrolling mindlessly through your Instagram account, and suddenly coming across something that you just HAD to have? A pair of blue suede shoes, a perfect accent chair (in the perfect shade of orange) or maybe even a pair of brand-new pajamas that make the ones that you’re wearing at that very moment seem just a little bit sad.

Studies have shown that shopping can make your brain release endorphins. People get a rush when they buy something. And new e-commerce channels are making it easier than ever to get a fix at 2 am, even when the mall is closed. Companies can now sell to prospective customers directly on social media. It’s as easy as clicking that “shop now” button.

Going to the mall with friends or family can still be fun, but businesses are getting wise to the fact that they can more easily target customers where they spend most of their time – Instagram and Facebook being two of their biggest opportunities. And what’s better than creating an experience where your customers can buy your product and then tell people about it all on the same page? It creates a completely organic intersection between commerce and advocacy.

For any retailer that sells online, social commerce represents a massive opportunity as e-commerce sales grow stronger year-over-year. Customers can now browse, compare products, read reviews, and purchase directly through the platform that they’re on with a simple click. Brands that are using their digital experiences as an opportunity to improve customer engagement are establishing a definite competitive advantage.

Companies have very little to lose and much more to gain by getting ahead of this growing opportunity. Share information with your audience and listen to the feedback to improve your products and services. Use the technology to give your customers a voice and a smooth purchase journey, and there is no denying the potential to drive sales.

Thinking about integrating social commerce into your customer journey strategy? Get in touch with us to get started.

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