Social Commerce Is The Future of Shopping

Elke Farnworth
November 26, 2020

Think. Audrey Hepburn exiting a taxi on Fifth Avenue, croissant in hand, peering into the windows of Tiffany and Co, or Carrie Bradshaw strutting through Bloomingdales with 12 bags weighing her down. Once upon a time, these visuals epitomised shopping.

Today, shopping more often than not, consists of you sitting on the couch in your pyjamas with every store you can think of at the touch of a finger. Oh, and if you're questioning your decision, gone are the days when you'd walk out of the change room and your friend, wife or mother would motion you to spin. Now it's a matter of '@' tag a friend and in the space of minutes, you've spent $500 based on an enticing bit of 1080px content.

See it, click it, buy it. 

Facebook and Instagram have removed the friction from the consumer journey making it all too easy to follow from discovery to purchase. They're right there. The products are there. Nowhere to go but checkout. While you're logged into your account, in the case you leave it in your cart, you'll find it in your inbox in an abandoned cart email. If you don't bother to check that, two days later when you're on the couch in your pyjamas scrolling aimlessly, a retargeting ad will appear, sitting pretty in your feed. 

Not only does social commerce fast track the customer journey, it also offers an elusive way to collect feedback. Your catalogue of goods is out there in the world for consumers to review and discuss together. No crystal ball required: your customer can just tell you what they like or don't like. On social, you get first hand information on who your customer is, and there is an opportunity to provide personalised customer service via comments or direct message.

Social commerce leverages inspiration for transactions. Offering you a chance to get specific and get your ready-to-buy products in front of the right person in a way that traditional e-commerce and marketing cannot. 

With an incredible wealth of data in your insights, you've got a prime opportunity to tweak your targeting. Your cool certified, organic, vegan friendly, cruelty free baby wrap can be directly advertised to the new Mum, or that anxiety-calming dog bed entice the loving fur mums at the click of a key.

Combining content, community and commerce. 

Social commerce has revolutionised how consumers shop, the pandemic only expedited it. As we head into 'THE sale season' post-pandemic, social commerce isn't just the cherry on the cake, it's the whole cake: icing, cherry and all. 

A brands message doesn't have to come from the brand itself. Influencer marketing is driving social commerce. It allows brands to connect with their community more authentically while leveraging off the muses’ creativity.

Facebook is encouraging this with a new feature launching which allows influencers to tag products in their posts, meaning their followers can click through to the product listing and purchase. Instagram influences the immediacy and intimacy of the mobile experience. This, according to experts, persuades you into thinking that this offers more authenticity. At the same time, this is what helps engagement surge on Instagram. How come? User-generated content!

As Instagram incorporates call-to-action (CTA) tools into its business model, the social network has essentially merged its marketing platform into an e-commerce outlet. By doing so, brands can witness tracking engagement and higher conversion rates since consumers don't have to click through so many websites. You can't toss up your catalogue and forget it. Talk to your customers, offer value and interesting content, be authentic and be human. For retailers, the future means learning how to engage both real communities of shoppers and visual ones. Remember the 'social' aspect. 

Mobile is now the top device for making online purchases. As we head into the biggest sale season of the year, in light of this, the biggest online sales season yet, it is important to address some trends we are noticing. 

Discovery - people are discovering products on social media. 

Immediacy - people's expectations around convenience are second to none. It's no longer about people finding products; social commerce is about products finding people who are most likely to like their product.

Personalisation - the likes of Netflix and Spotify have created a new exception for one to one personalisation. 

Best AF Practices

  • Tell stories, appeal to an emotional connection, create desire.
  • Tag every product.
  • Making content shoppable.
  • Don't leave it on automatic settings, customise it so it shows your top-performing products first. Customise it regularly to promote “on sale” or “in season”.
  • Stay product focused.
  • Use a clear CTA.
  • Showcase features and benefits.
  • Optimise on display. It's a good time to audit your product feeds making sure you are correctly displaying products in stock, in various sizes.

Final Thoughts

The aim of the game with social commerce is to guide customers to the checkout. Social media platforms are continually thinking of new ways to streamline the customer journey. If you invest in a social media strategy now, while the trend is still in its early stages, you'll be able to provide unparalleled service to your customers. 

The way shopping is changing year by year, and my instincts tell me that Instagram could be the platform to lead the charge, we're not far off the scene out of Clueless where Cher stands there while clicking a screen and suddenly she's dressed. And before you know it, we will press a button and get it delivered instantly to our doorstep by a drone. In the meantime, brands need a strategy to incentivise it because it is the future of shopping. Embrace it. Remember, we are here to help.