It probably wasn’t easy to adapt conventional retail practices to this revolutionary model because it was never as simple as just adding a website and a transaction platform. You’ll have learned very quickly that marketing, customer engagement, inventory, fulfilment, and customer service in the digital environment demanded new skills, but once perfected they brought rich benefits.
Now that you have come this far, don’t neglect the potential that is offered by social commerce, the most recent incarnation of retail activity that has been delivered by digital technology. Every social media platform has developed a capacity for selling products and services – the obvious ones such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok but also the less obvious like Twitter and even LinkedIn. So how big is it, what is it and how does it work?
How Big is Social Commerce?
Global sales attributable to social commerce currently stand at almost $90 billion but informed commentators predict this figure to rise above $600 billion in seven years, an increase of nearly 700%. Initially seen as a valuable adjunct to established ecommerce channels, social commerce is on the way to becoming indispensable, not just because of the income it can bring in but also because any ecommerce enterprise that does not establish a social commerce presence risks not being taken seriously. Both revenue and reputation could suffer.
What is Social Commerce?
Where ecommerce is a reinvention of the physical shopping experience by digital means, social commerce is effectively a new phenomenon rather than a digital version of an analogue practice. It enables you to sell to customers from within their social media activity. Instead of drawing them to your website, you can remove much of the friction and engage with them where they play. It is interactive and immediate. It’s a little like window shopping except that browsing and buying become part of the same process. If you choose to display a product or service on, say, Instagram, you don’t have to carry the consumer away from the platform to your site – you can execute the transaction right there. According to a study by Facebook, 81% of shoppers research products on Instagram and Facebook and 48% on Pinterest. Social commerce converts this research into sales.
Some of the Key Benefits
In addition to offering an interactive, frictionless experience, social commerce is a rich source of feedback and marketing data. Social media platforms are all about sharing, commenting and discovering, so it is easy to persuade purchasers to talk about their experiences and what they have bought. Suddenly you have access to your own focus group which helps you understand your audience, define your demographics, develop products and plan your inventory. Knowing what your customers want becomes easier than it has ever been because on social media, people are motivated to talk as much as to listen.
Advertising through conventional channels including television and print media has always struggled to reach younger consumers, but social media is the natural habitat of Millennials and Gen-Zers. In 2019 nearly 50% of internet users in this bracket bought goods or services via social media sites and as the popularity and sophistication of these platforms grows, this figure is soon expected to exceed 80%. By using the most innovative tools of Ecommerce as a Service (EaaS), you can target customers precisely, leveraging its data analytics to segment your market with unprecedented accuracy. Not only will you increase the volume of your sales, but also the cost-efficiency of every transaction. Whatever else 2022 may bring, you can be certain that embracing social commerce will be one of the year’s biggest positives.