When most business minds think of social media today, all they see is a platform where they can attract potential customers, engage with them, and ultimately lure them to their websites/stores where they can patronize their business.
They perceive social media as more of a marketing tool rather than an outright market.
However, if you take a closer look at the trends on most social networking platforms today, you’ll notice that things are likely going to evolve in the years to come. That is, social media will evolve from just an ordinary marketing platform to a commercial marketplace – social commerce.
But what exactly does a social commerce platform entails? If we’re predicting social media to become a platform for social commerce, what are we actually talking about?
What is social commerce?
Social commerce refers to a system of commerce whereby products are sold directly on social media platforms. Unlike what we have at the moment, wherein customers move from a social media site to a store/site to complete a purchase, the entirety of a consumer’s shopping and purchase experience will happen on the social media site.
This is going to be an absolute revelation because it will make the whole process of online shopping more convenient. For example, let’s say you find a product that interests you on an influencer’s feed, you can just click on the product to either add it to your cart on that site or buy it directly. That way, you don’t have to go through the stress of opening multiple tabs, visiting sites/stores outside your social media app, and you also don’t have to abandon whatever you were doing before stumbling on the product.
For business owners:
How many potential buyers have you lost because of the poor integration between your social media page and your eCommerce store? If you're like most brand owners, you've probably lost count. That's going to change once the world of social media tilts towards social commerce.
Instead of just advertising your products to people on social sites and praying to God that they click the attached link or go to your bio to check the link to the product, you can now sell directly on that same site.
What's more, you can even decide to channel all your digital commerce efforts into social media, thereby saving yourself the cost of creating websites or claiming spots on eCommerce stores/online marketplaces.
How does the potential of social commerce compare to what we have with eCommerce?
In truth, social commerce is really going to floor eCommerce with its tons of benefits when it finally comes to the fray. It is a far more streamlined process, especially when you can enjoy things like chatbot checkouts, autofill payments, delivery details, and fewer clicks.
By and large, the efficiency of social commerce – both for buyers and sellers – is bound to outperform that of eCommerce.
Let’s take a look at a quick case study to illustrate the difference in the efficiency of both systems.
- Let’s say you have a conventional store that gets 10,000 visitors.
- Of that group, 25% give you their email address
- When you send that group an email, 25% of them open it (if you’re that good with your email marketing effort)
- Then 5% of those who open the email click on the link in the email.
- And three percent of those clicks end up buying something.
That’s a grand total of 1 purchase, after starting with 10,000 visitors.
Now, compare that to a hypothetical social commerce journey. Let’s take a messenger chatbot, for instance.
- Start with 10,000 chatbot visitors.
- Of that group, you can message 99% of them
- Open rates are quite high for chatbots, around 75%.
- So from the group that sees your message and opens it, let's say that 48% click-through
- And then 1% purchase something
That’s a total of 35 purchases, compared to the one (1) purchase in the store example.
Of course, these are just hypothetical figures, but they aren’t so far off what we can expect from social commerce.
Any sign of social commerce at the moment?
Although all we’ve been saying might seem more like guesses and hopes, there are actually some signs that exist at the moment that point to the possibility and realization of social commerce.
At the moment, we already have the “Instagram Checkout” feature, which is a fully contained shopping experience within the Instagram app. With this feature, users can shop and buy all they want from within Instagram. Unfortunately, this feature is only available to some select brands like Nike and Kylie cosmetics at the moment.
Another feature on Instagram closest to social commerce is the “Instagram Shopping" feature, which is currently available to businesses in over 70 countries. The criteria for using this feature are that you have to sell physical products and have a business Instagram account.
Of course, you will need to have a strong following to get the most out of this feature because how much you sell will depend on the number of people interacting with your business profile.
To build a solid following, you can buy views, followers, or likes to expose your brand to new audiences.
Facebook has also taken a giant stride towards attaining the heights of social commerce with Facebook Page Shops and messenger. On your Facebook Page Shop, for instance, you can sell directly from within Facebook. Some of the things you can do on a regular Facebook Page Shop include;
- Add new products
- Update product information
- Sell directly to customers from your page
- Manage orders and shipping details
- Run Facebook ads to promote your goods.
Pinterest is also not slacking in their attempts to become a social commerce platform. Back in 2015, they released "Buyable Pins" and had over 60 million buyable pins in its first six months. Ever since, they've released lots of other commerce features such as "Shop the Look" and "Catalogs."
What does this all mean for business owners?
With the realization of social commerce becoming more and more likely by the day, business owners are urged to start doubling down on their social media marketing efforts to build a solid customer base on all social platforms.
Even though social commerce hasn’t gone full-fledge today, it will very soon. And when it does, those brands that have already built a strong following on social media are definitely going to be the first to benefit the most from the innovation.