Over the last few decades, there's been a progressive change from simple, text-based updates to visual and ephemeral content, followed by app-based platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
These trends are driving innovation in social media where customers can browse and buy products within different digital platforms.
Social Commerce is quickly becoming one of the latest trends in social media today and creating a significant impact.
In this guide, we'll help you understand the benefits of social commerce, learn how to boost your sales with the power of social media, and much more.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is a process where merchants sell their products directly through social media platforms, allowing prospective consumers to interact with the brands, browse their products and make purchases.
Unlike social media marketing, social commerce allows customers to purchase and check out directly from social platforms. In some cases, the app may contain links that lead the buyers to the retailer's product page, where they can complete their purchase.
For instance, if you're scrolling through your Instagram account and stumble on a sponsored post by a clothing brand featuring a model wearing a pullover that may fit perfectly in your winter wardrobe.
The image will have a "View Products" tag, leading to a product page with all details and pricing. Once you select your size, you have to tap "Shop Now," and within a few clicks, your purchase is complete in the app without needing to visit the company's website. Sounds convenient, right?
Difference between social commerce and eCommerce
Social commerce and eCommerce are very different concepts, so don't mix them up!
eCommerce refers to an online shopping experience through a dedicated branded app or website built on an eCommerce platform such as BigCommerce, Amazon, or Shopify. Customers may access these sites via desktop, tablet, or mobile devices.
Social commerce allows the customer to purchase products or services within their social media platforms, where everything from product research to checkout happens without having to leave the app.
15 social commerce statistics you should know
Social commerce is growing at a rapid pace with our digital consumption increasing by the day. Here are some statistics eCommerce businesses should know:
- According to research, the social commerce market is expected to hit $1.3 trillion in 2023, exceeding the $1 trillion mark for the first time.
- Apparel and accessories are the largest categories for social commerce. (Insider Intelligence, 2021)
- 8 in 10 ten US businesses anticipate selling on social media within the next three years. (Statista, 2021)
- 27% of global internet users rely on social media to find products to purchase. (GWI, 2020)
- 13% of social networkers say a "buy" button is one of the top purchase drivers. (GWI, 2020)
- People who use Pinterest weekly are 7x more likely to say it's the most influential platform in their purchase journey compared to other social media platforms. (Pinterest, 2021)
- With 56.1 million buyers, Facebook ranks as the top social commerce platform in the US. (Insider Intelligence, 2021)
- By 2023, 71% of small businesses plan to sell on social media platforms. (Statista, 2021)
- 11% of social media users immediately make an online purchase after discovering a product, while 44% purchase later. (Statista, 2021)
- 54% of Gen Z shoppers and 58% of Millennials agree that social platforms are better than online searches for new products. (Statista, 2021)
- Over 36% of B2B decision-makers use Instagram to find information on new products or services. (Hootsuite, 2020)
- Social commerce sales are predicted to value $605 billion by 2027. (Statista, 2021)
- 78% of US social network users discover new products through Facebook. Instagram and Pinterest come in second, both at 59%. (Net Solutions, 2021)
- 70% of shopping enthusiasts look to Instagram to discover new products. (Instagram, 2019)
- 51% of consumers in the US and UK use YouTube to research or find products to buy. (GWI, 2020)
What are the top social commerce platforms?
Here are the 5 best examples of social commerce platforms that can help you leverage social media to drive your brand sales and deliver an impeccable social shopping experience.
According to Instagram, one in two users use the platform to learn about new brands, products, or services, and 44% of the users shop weekly. Instagram provides a better shopping experience along with building brand awareness.
It is a perfect social platform to display products, mainly if the images are enticing, making it an excellent medium for visual storytelling.
Thanks to the "Shoppable Posts" feature, users can get the details and pricing of the product they like and want to buy by clicking on the post. The platform also regularly adds features like shoppable story tags or reels, live shopping, and more without interrupting your scrolling.
Benchmark your Instagram store against Instagram’s shop launch partners and see how you compare.
Almost 71% of worldwide Facebook users purchase from the platform at least once. Businesses can create a social shopping store on Facebook as it allows brands to customize their store free of cost. They can choose the product pictures they want to display and select the theme to match their brand's theme.
These free-of-cost features by Facebook shop facilitate the growth of small businesses by connecting them with their target audience anytime, anywhere.
With Facebook Shops, sellers can create a customizable store from which customers can browse and purchase. Customers can communicate with sellers through Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp by clicking the messaging button on Facebook shops.
Brands can also stream live on Facebook, which allows consumers to purchase directly from a live stream. They can use Facebook Checkout to buy items without leaving the platform, or brands can redirect them to an online store.
Almost 400 million people use Pinterest every month to find ideas and research products. Pinterest has a visual search engine Lens that works with shoppable Product Pins. Based on users' photos, these Lenses find items that Pinterest thinks may catch the user's attention and interest.
Pinterest has introduced shoppable pins that allow users to buy products from posts created by brands on Pinterest. This feature has helped brands boost sales and increased Pinterest's dwell time as users don't have to leave the app.
4. Amazon Live
Social commerce is something that's newly introduced in Amazon. With Amazon Live, businesses are blending social shopping with influencer marketing to generate awareness and traffic.
Amazon Live facilitates brands to engage with shoppers in real-time using interactive, shoppable live streams. It is designed to inspire, inform, and interest consumers in a format that allows actual brand interaction.
The platform can introduce shoppers to your products and give them the info they need to make informed purchase choices. You can also use live streams to educate the audiences on product features, benefits, offers, and discounts in an interactive environment with live product displays.
It also includes a chat feature where you can answer queries and offer information in real-time to help increase connection. Amazon Live helps create brand awareness and engagement and further increases sales opportunities.
5. Tik Tok
TikTok is relatively new regarding social commerce, but the rapid growth of the video-sharing platform is successfully experimenting in this area.
TikTok Shop allows sellers to sell products directly to the audiences through video content, live streams, and a product showcase profile tab.
TikTok has established a solid global partnership with Shopify. Brands can create, run, and optimize TikTok marketing campaigns directly from the Shopify dashboard by installing a new TikTok channel from the Shopify App Store.
Sellers can create intuitive, shareable content that transforms their products into In-Feed shoppable video ads. Shopify and TikTok have also tested a new shopping button that lets TikTok creators link their Shopify storefront to their videos.
What are the benefits of social commerce
If you are still wondering if social commerce will work for your business, here are some benefits that will encourage you to try it out:
1. Consistent audience growth
There are millions of social media users today, which means you can showcase your products and services to a broader audience in business terms.
However, you should focus on the type of content, the frequency, the quality, and the usage of certain hashtags and keywords.
When you use the appropriate hashtags and keywords in your post captions, it is easier for your target audience to find you while searching for brands like yours.
2. Interactive shopping process
Shopping for products and services on social media is easier, quicker, and more interactive than typical eCommerce shopping.
With social commerce, buyers can comment on a product they want, review and leave comments, and check with their family or friends on possible purchases. Moreover, they can directly interact with their favorite brands.
3. Create frictionless shopping experiences
Discover, click, and buy! Social commerce removes friction from the customer journey, making it simple to follow through from discovery to purchase, reducing the chances of cart abandonment.
Features like the buy button, in-app checkout, and instant messaging tools make shopping through social media very convenient by eliminating unnecessary steps in the purchasing process.
Every extra step in the purchase process allows customers to change their minds and eventually abandon their purchases. Creating a smooth experience for shoppers by decreasing friction points and offering direct and one-click buying options increases the consumers' confidence and boosts further sales.
4. Instant focus group
Along with speeding up the purchase process, social commerce offers an excellent way to gather consumer feedback. As your products are readily showcased on social platforms, customers can review them and tell you what they like or don't like about your products or services.
You can interact directly with your consumers via comments or DM and ask them to share their opinions or votes on your product ideation, development, and inventory decisions.
5. Sell to highly targeted audiences
Social commerce is all about meeting your customers where they are already spending their time. Doing so will allow you to engage with your existing customers in a new and authentic way by sharing your brand voice through creative content.
Social commerce allows brands to get exclusive, ready-to-buy products in front of specific people who would love them. Most social platforms have analytics abilities to track users' social and buying behaviors over time. Using this information, you can cater your products directly to your target audience and tweak and target your advertising.
6. Generate social proof
Consumers usually are not too shy to praise or complain about products online. If your business uses social commerce, you can invite honest customer feedback, which can be shared with your product development team or posted on your site as social proof.
Social commerce comes with built-in social proof in the form of user-generated comments, likes, follows, and shares. Businesses can create a positive feedback loop that keeps consumers coming back for more. The more users interact and promote your products; the more likely other consumers will trust your brand.
Top social commerce trends to watch out for
So, what trends do we expect to see over the coming year? Here are 4 social commerce trends set to shape 2023:
1. Augmented reality (AR)
Imagine you wanted a couch but didn't know if it'd fit in your living room. Earlier, you would’ve had to bust out the tape to measure the dimensions. But now, you can use your phone to virtually "set" an item in the area and visualize how it would look in real life.
Merchants can tap into this trend by using AR filters to display their products or allow customers to try them virtually.
Brands can use AR to help customers figure out which products they want to purchase, and customers can use the technology to get a feel for items at home instead of going to physical stores to try the products.
61% of consumers trust influencers' recommendations, more than those who trust branded social media content which is often biased.
Smaller retail businesses find that working with micro-influencers further increases their marketing budget while helping them engage with larger segments of their target audience.
While big-name influencers with millions of followers may be out of reach for small-scale retailers, micro-influencers usually work with brands at affordable budgets. This is because micro-influencers have a particular audience type, making targeting different demographics easier and building authenticity.
3. User-generated content
Shoppable user-generated content (UGC) provides the social proof consumers want to see before making an in-app purchase. As shoppers cannot physically experience an item when shopping online, they have to rely on the authentic visuals created by customers, which offers a view into what a product exactly looks like in reality.
Building a hashtag campaign is an incredible way of encouraging customers to share visuals of your products in the hope of a feature in your feed. Using a branded hashtag will make it easier to collect and choose from a large pool of UGC.
4. Use of AI-trained Chabot
43% of consumers say they will likely use live chat in the next year. Nowadays, shoppers want easy access to the brands they're thinking about purchasing from.
Live chat is a key feature that makes social commerce more sociable and interactive. Consumers want to interact with brands as they chat with their friends through social platforms. A more customized engagement experience will make potential customers and buyers feel valued and reassure them that your business is there when they need you.
5. Shopping at the edges
With extensive use of social media for selling, brands are now realizing how broken the status quo is. The traditional approach of using social media to promote products is working well to get the brand discovered, but statistics have shown that 67% of online shoppers still choose to make purchases on the brand’s website.
But by the time a buyer clicks through social media to find the product on the website, the conversion is often lost. This is why most eCommerce websites see a mere <2% conversion rate on their social traffic and an increased cost of customer acquisition.
This is where edge storefronts are taking the lead. These storefronts are designed to blend social content with eCommerce sites to offer a full shopping experience to consumers on the social media platform itself. Reducing the need to switch platforms and being able to carry forward social context, makes these storefronts the next step to succeeding with social commerce.
How to Get Started with Social Commerce?
The earlier you start experimenting with social commerce, the faster your business can scale. Follow these steps when setting up social commerce for your business:
1. Identify your audience
With the surge in impulse buying, mostly among millennials and Gen Xers, social commerce has a huge potential to attract customers and boost sales. However, the key is to leverage this purchase behavior by making it as smooth as possible for customers with little to no disruption.
Firstly you must identify and understand your target audience. If most of your customers are 30-40 years old, TikTok may not be the best option for your business.
It is crucial to take your time to collect demographic data about your consumers and identify what they like and dislike. You can even talk to them directly and get more insight into how to serve them best. This way, you can reach your audience with products and messaging that meet their needs in the best possible ways.
2. Analyze their online presence
You don't necessarily have to be on every social media platform. Instead, look at the demographics of every social platform and prioritize those channels that appeal to your target audience.
If your target audience is in the 18-34 age bracket, you'll likely find them on TikTok instead of Facebook. And if you think your products are best suited to the audience in this age bracket, try setting up a shop on their most favored social platform.
3. Identify the products you want to promote
Think whether your products are the right fit for social commerce. If you sell apparel, accessories, home décor, cosmetics, electronics, or any impulse buys often purchased on the spot, social commerce will be beneficial and may likely pay you big dividends.
4. Understand the commerce features of that platform
Every social platform has its own unique features. Ensure you figure out the best way to leverage them to your benefit. If you’re a retailer looking to promote some cool outfits, go for Instagram Shop to show them off!
Check out some amazing social commerce examples to get ideas on how you can improve your sales.
Wrapping it Up
With social commerce, it's now far more accessible for big and small brands to experiment and leverage it to grow their businesses. But only when implemented strategically and with the right set of technology on your side.
The increasing amount of competition on social channels requires brands to go beyond what the platforms to offer for commerce. It requires them to break through the traditional approach of using social media to drive traffic to the websites, and bring the shopping websites to where the consumers are the most active.
And SimplicityDX is taking the lead at redefining social commerce for brands.
Want to double your sales with social commerce?
Explore the latest trends and case studies showcasing successful social commerce campaigns by top brands.