Opinion

Social Commerce is the next growth frontier

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Social Commerce is rising exponentially and here to stay, but how can brands be more than just active?

Traditional eCommerce has conditioned us to expect instant gratification. But now consumers want more than just next day delivery; online transactions need to be convenient and entertaining.

As a result, a significant force has grown - social commerce. Previously focussed towards discovery and consideration, social media apps can now also fulfil the conversion element of the funnel without having to take consumers off-platform.

For example, one might see a pair of sneakers on their Instagram feed, hit “shop now” and complete the purchase right there in the app. Or, they could spot an umbrella during rainy season as they’re scrolling through their Facebook feed, click “Buy.” And once purchase is complete, can continue with their usual Facebook experience.

After making it easier than ever to connect with friends and family, social media is putting the social into shopping once again. Live shopping demos, ads that also let you shop directly, voice-activated technology and chatbots have all been effective tactics to remove the mundane from monetisation.

Moving out of the supermarket aisle and into digital spaces gives brands (large and small) the opportunity to retarget consumers with the collection of first-party data, meaning brands can also invest more in solutions which get them closer to their consumers and consumers will be more loyal to brands that can instantly gratify their needs.

Consumers are already taking action - Bazarvoice notes that one in three global shoppers have now made a purchase via social media in the past year, something undeniably shaped by the pandemic. A 2020 survey of 12,000 consumers and more than 1,000 social sellers across Asia found nearly 13% of purchases in the region now involve live-streaming.

Globally, social commerce is expected to reach nearly $1.2 trillion by 2026, according to a recent research and markets report. As ever, younger consumers are driving change; 43% of 18-24-year-olds and 47% of 25-34-year-olds are now shopping via social media, a key insight from a media investment and partnerships perspective to target different demographics based on their online behaviours.

Building social commerce strategies open up the opportunity to get closer to consumers, but how should brands be designing their approach?

Make it holistic:

Driving shoppable and social commerce means looking at social commerce as part of wider plans rather than a one-off activity. Haagen-Dazs partnered with Secret Cinema creating a unique experience of a ‘’Secret sofa", with their #HaagIndoors campaign. Using Instagram and TikTok, they produced creator-led content and actions every week in alignment with the chosen film and the corresponding ice-cream flavour to offer secret codes via newsletters so consumers could order the ice-cream of the week, driving commerce along with engagement.

Close the loop:

Identifying solutions that take shoppers from ads to basket in a more seamless way to convert clicks into sales, requires bringing digital in line with media planning. That’s where solutions such as Curalate help form landing pages that pull the exact items promoted on social media and share first-party data that social media platforms won’t.

Be creative:

Creativity is needed to activate in a meaningful and relevant way. American retail company, Kroger, became the first brand globally to activate a shoppable hashtag #TransformUrDorm challenge, by working with 4 Gen Z influencers to show how they were transforming their dorms with Kroger products. The influencer and user-generated content lets anyone viewing the content purchase those specific products online. Brands now have direct relationship with their consumers in this new hierarchy and need to find more relevant and meaningful ways to connect with their audiences. You can also read Josh Gallagher’s, recent view on this.

Make it fun:

Features such as livestreaming have made online shopping fun, as people remained isolated for a long time with no form of entertainment. So last year we saw brands from different industries sponsor and host online concerts via online games, such as Animal Crossing, to VR concerts and watch-parties, where audiences could enjoy these virtually with their friends and interact with them online. JD.com and Chinese music label Taihe Music Group partnered to create an online clubbing experience, bringing in major alcohol brands for the experience, which increased sales of alcohol by almost 70% as audiences were able to buy these live during the clubbing sessions.

Test and Learn:

Using a test and learn approach with start-ups, we’ve been able to install playfulness back into shopping, bringing something more unique to audiences. Brands should be brave and look at how partnerships can strengthen their voice. L’Oreal used live-shopping by partnering with Livescale to provide live makeup tutorials that allowed customers to interact with the hosts, ask questions, receive discounts and bonuses, and purchase products, all as one seamless experience.

Social Commerce is here to stay, for brands this creates a new urgency to learn fast or face being left on the retail shelf.

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