In 2020, brands are now responsible for creating omnichannel experiences that also drive sales. eCommerce is now something that doesn’t just happen on websites; it’s evolved as the competitive landscape has become more saturated. Social media shopping is an emerging channel that can pay big dividends, as 55% of online shoppers made a purchase through a social media channel in 2018.
It’s a channel that’s growing significantly and those that embrace and leverage it can increase profits.
What Is Social Media Shopping?
Social media shopping, also known as social commerce, refers to companies selling products directly within social media platforms. It differs from social media marketing, which uses content to drive traffic to websites. Instead, the entire shopping experience occurs within the social media platform.
How Does Social Media Shopping Work?
Each social media platform addresses eCommerce differently. What they have in common is streamlining the process, requiring fewer clicks to buy than most websites. Let’s look specifically at how Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest enable social commerce.
Instagram and Facebook Shopping
Instagram is the most popular platform for social media shopping. Brands are taking advantage of Instagram’s image-friendly concept and have good reason to invest in it since 70% of consumers look to Instagram for product discovery.
Instagram recognized the opportunity and launched Instagram Checkout. With this new feature, purchases happen in the app, which expands on the Instagram Shopping feature.
Facebook is also in the social media shopping game. The tools most used are Facebook Page Shops and Messenger. Brands can build an entire store on Facebook. You can add and update products, sell directly from your page, manage orders and shipping, and administer Facebook ads to promote your store.
Messenger is opening up a new channel for customers to interact with brands. These interactions now occur in real-time with the help of AI-powered chatbots. They can answer questions and offer promos, delivering better results than traditional digital funnels.
Pinterest has also begun to enhance social commerce options. Buyable pins have been used for several years with considerable success. The platform recently released “Shop the Look,” which highlights items in an image available for sale. Pinterest also allows you to upload a complete product catalog.
What’s Next: Social Commerce Trends to Watch
There’s no doubt that shoppers love the convenience of social media shopping. To grow that number, brands should watch these trends.
Social Media Shopping Will Expand Beyond Established Channels
Social media platforms are always evolving, and new ones are entering the market. Because of this, shoppers will flock to new channels offering eCommerce capabilities. One example is the short-form video app, TikTok. These addicting snippets are attracting lots of interest. TikTok has begun to experiment with eCommerce by allowing websites to include links to products. With TikTok a favorite of Gen Z, it’s a new opportunity to market to them.
If TikTok is a platform that makes sense to invest in based on your target buyer, stay updated on their roadmap for eCommerce features. Continue to grow your audience with compelling and clever videos.
Brands Will Deliver Social Proof with User-Generated Content (UGC)
Social media campaigns that use UGC can significantly increase conversions. Shoppers, especially younger generations, put more emphasis on peer recommendations than brand messaging when it comes to buying.
Tapping into your social media community and asking them to create content about your brand can be a big win for your social commerce efforts. Consider integrating shoppable posts with UGC for a more compelling story.
To execute on this trend, build your community by interacting with fans and followers. Post questions and ask for feedback in video format. Gather more responses with incentives like discounts on products.
Enhancing the Customer Experience
eCommerce is a new crossroads, one that is often defined as the experience economy. This new phase in the economy relates to the customer experience, which substantially impacts a customer’s decision to purchase and remain loyal.
To optimize the customer experience, you’ll need to rely on data. By establishing master data management (MDM) strategies, you’ll be able to create a 360-degree view of the customer and personalize their experience. With this approach, promotions are more relevant, which should increase conversions.
To execute MDM, you’ll need the right technology tools. Choose a platform that aggregates customer data from multiple sources and uses AI and machine learning to create optimized customer journeys that drive hyper-personalization. Seek simplicity in an application that offers easy scalability and doesn’t require a data scientist to launch. Start your research by viewing Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for MDM, which highlights the best solution on the market.
Data Security and Privacy Are Still a Concern
There are two key reasons to be aware of this trend in the industry. First, your company is collecting sensitive data from social media users, and in doing so, must comply with data privacy regulations, including GDPR and the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which impact how you gather, store, and use data.
Second, being transparent about your security and privacy policies with consumers can provide them with peace of mind. They will then feel more comfortable making purchases on social media, just as they do on your secure website.
As reported by in the Social Commerce Report growth in social commerce adoption has stalled due to security and privacy concerns. The Facebook data scandal left merchants and users wondering if social media was worth the risk. However, social media isn’t a fad. It still wields unbelievable popularity and influence.
Social media brands have made great progress in making platforms more secure. Brands will have to do their part to reassure customers that these are safe places to make purchases.
B2B Marketers Will Look to Social Media Shopping
The majority of social commerce falls into the B2C realm, as fashion, beauty, and decor dominate the eCommerce world. B2B can use this channel as well to drive conversions.B2B social commerce is not that different than those brands targeting consumers. You are still selling to a person, not an unknown entity. B2B companies should not ignore the possibilities of social shopping.
With physical products, you can do all the same things as B2C, but many B2B companies struggle with how to socially sell services. It’s likely that 2020 could see a surge in services featured in social media shopping. It could work very well for those that sell subscriptions to software and applications.
For example, a project management software often charges users a monthly or annual fee. Such a brand may use social media marketing to drive demo sign-ups. But why not give visitors the option to watch a demo video on your profile then buy it. This type of execution should be something B2B tests in 2020 to see if they see any lift in sales.
How Will You Leverage Social Commerce in 2020?
It’s an exciting time for eCommerce with new opportunities on the horizon. Social media shopping will only grow in 2020 with more features on sites coming for seamless experiences. Accelerate growth by strategically selling on the platforms where your target buyers are already shopping. Further, by exploiting some of this year’s social commerce trends, you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and boost sales.
Need help creating and executing a plan? Contact us today to learn more about how we can reimagine your digital experiences.