Shopping at The Edge – The New eCommerce Reality

Ruth Peters
May 31, 2022

Sometimes it is easier to ignore the evidence in front of you, stick your head in the sand for a bit and hope it won’t impact you. But, when it comes to eCommerce, Shopping on the Edge is the new reality. It’s changed the consumers expectations, behaviour, and their journey to your brand site. It has significant implications on customer experience and revenue. 

In this article you will learn all you need to know about shopping at the edge and how to stand out and thrive in this brave new world.

Dig deeper > 3 minute read

 

Shopping at the edge – what is it?

According to Salesforce’s connected Shopper Report, consumers now interact with brands across an average 7.6 different touch-points, starting their journey at the edge (predominantly social media) and away from the commerce core. This new path to purchase has dramatically changed the traditional eCommerce sales funnel that started with the home page and ended with brand site checkout, and it is called shopping on the edge.

Is shopping at the edge an opportunity or threat?

On the one hand it’s a massive opportunity to put products in front of a firehose of potential customers. But it also adds complexity for brands. 

Social media gives consumers instant gratification. Their brains become dopamine junkies looking for the next fix of video, message, followers, like or share. It means brands have less control, as they fight to gain and then retain attention amongst the competing noise. Social is a long way from the closed experience of the brand eCommerce site!

But it’s not just maddening noise that brands need to think about, it’s also the cost of broken experiences, as customers cross channels. We’ve all been there. We spot an exciting new product, rapid click (for instant gratification), land on basic product detail page to find the product out of stock, or product inconsistencies, or a broken link that leads nowhere. We leave frustrated nursing a poor experience. The brand is totally unaware, wondering why the cost of customer acquisition is so high.

The shopping at the edge opportunity?

This year brands are forecast to spend 20% of their digital ad budgets on social media. Applying ‘performance advertising’ philosophy, (where an end-to end view of the customers journey optimizes from the ad through the click to the conversion), offers significant potential to dramatically improve Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Since the customer experience after the click is generally so poor, there’s a lot of upside in optimizing the experience to drive increases in conversions.

What steps do I need to take now to stand out and thrive? 

1. Understand the new consumer shopping patterns

Accelerated by the Pandemic, shopper behaviour is changing. Where shoppers what to start their journeys and how they want to buy is critical to understand.

For instance, SimplicityDX surveyed 501 U.S. consumers in February 2022, inquiring about their use of social media for shopping. The results were compiled in a report titled “State of Social Commerce 2022.” The results showed that roughly half (48%) of online shoppers think social is “a great place to learn about new products,” but only 13% prefer to buy there. Almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents prefer to check out on the brand site.

This is great news for brands and confirms a familiar pattern of discovering on social, perhaps via influencers, and then clicking to the brand site to buy (good for brands, more control over the experience).  

Shifts in patterns of behavior this significant should influence how you think about optimizing your brand experience. For instance, these results indicate you should carefully consider whether or not to use social checkout, and where to refer traffic onto your brand site. For example, there’s a much higher bounce rate and lower conversion rate for traffic landing directly on the Product Detail Page

2. Don’t fall into the MORE trap

It’s a fast-paced world, we generally want MORE! Product out of stock’s driven by promotional campaigns is a great example of more not always being better. You promote a product; great effort goes into the campaign strategy and creatives. The promotion takes off quickly and key size variants run out in lightening-fast time, great work !  Not really,  product availability problems early in a campaign cause enormous frustration for potential customers (who justifiably expect the product to be in stock) and wasted advertising budget. Instead we need to think about the experience end to end.

The key to avoiding the MORE trap, is to make sure your products, campaigns and stock analytics are connected across multiple channels. Inventory data is rarely synchronized in real time with social media leading to frequent disappointments and frustrations as shoppers rightly expect those goods to be available. So, think carefully before you post fast-moving, low inventory items on social, and keep a close eye on all promoted inventory stock. Pausing the campaign when an out of stock condition is detected  will increase ROAS and reduce customer frustration.

3. Pay attention to the end-to-end experience

The cross over from a social network to an eCommerce site is often…well let’s say, less than ideal! Our research highlights that 81% of shoppers clicking through from social media to a brand site had poor experiences. Problems include broken links, site errors, inconsistent context, and out-of-stock products.

This is not surprising - crossing channels often causes a break in experience. Going from social to a brand site is no different. But the stakes are higher on the brand site, as shoppers expect to complete the purchase on there. So, brand site problems hurt both revenue and reputation.

That’s especially the case if a social channel links directly to the product detail page. In a bygone era, shoppers arrived directly on the brand site or via a search engine. Merchants funneled that traffic, typically from the home page to a category page to, finally, the product detail page with a single call to action, add to cart.

But today product detail pages are often where visitors land, with bounce rates upwards of 72% higher than other pages. The result is a huge revenue leak. In fact, our research, which you can find in the State of Social Commerce 2022 report, shows that this revenue leak is equivalent to a substantial 14% of site revenue. 

In short, brands should adjust tactics to accommodate edge shoppers. A good place to start is fixing your product detail pages. If you’re referring traffic directly to your product detail pages, create versions for landing traffic and include a range of alternatives and best-selling categories. Monitor your bounce rates for that traffic and experiment with options to plug the revenue leak. Consider ways to continue the social experience, such as adding user-generated and influencer content. And the more you know about those visitors, the better to target them with personalized stories and offers, to make sure your messages are cutting through the noise.

In summary, there is no doubt that shopping on the edge is the new shopping reality. Consumers are not going to give up the social habit. Currently, more than 80% of the 4.66 billion people on the planet with access to the internet are social network users… and this share is expected to grow.

However, it’s essential to fully understand the implications of this change, and grab the significant opportunity that it represents.  Don’t fall into the edge shopping experience traps. Ensure you make the most of the new opportunities to stand out from the crowd and provide a great experience across channels.

Also checkout our other posts on social commerce:

Shopping at The Edge – The New eCommerce Reality

Promotions at the edge: how promotions cause eCommerce shopping experiences to break

Social Commerce for Retail?

Social Commerce and the Peak Shopping Season

SimplicityDX Publishes 2022 State of Social Commerce Impact Study

Watch the Webinar - Social Commerce is Broken: How to Fix it

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