Do you miss the days of hitting the high street with your friends? While online shopping is quick and easy, it’s tended to lack that social, fun element – up until now.
Social commerce is transforming the world of shopping, fast. So what is it, and how can brands make it work for them? Let us explain…
What's new about social selling?
When it comes to finding out information about brands and services, there’s one source that’s trusted above all others: friends and family.
They win the trust of 93% of respondents, according to a Kantar survey covering eight countries including the UK. They’re closely followed by review sites, on 91%.
Social media platforms have long cultivated this confidence, enabling brands to promote their goods to their followers’ friends, and encouraging customers to post feedback. Influencers have played a key role too.
So what’s new? Until recently, a brand could meet customers on social media and engage with them in a fun and inspiring way. However, it then had to take those customers to its website to make a purchase.
Now, social media channels are increasingly developing tools and techniques to enable in-platform purchasing. Customers don’t have to go anywhere. Shopping has become integrated into their online socialising.
By shortening customer journeys in this way, brands hope to improve shopping cart abandonment rates, which stand at around 80% for ecommerce globally.
How big is the market?
The market exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, when social media was one of our only chances to connect with others.
Social commerce sales in the US were forecast to rise by 35.8% to $36.62 billion in 2021, with the Chinese market calculated to be around ten times that size.
In the UK, research from early 2021 found that a third of UK shoppers had purchased directly through social media. More than a third said they won’t go through with a purchase on a website if there’s no user-generated content available.
How are platforms boosting social selling?
Already, the social media giants have launched an array of shopping tools.
Live shopping is one key technique, introduced by several platforms including Facebook. It involves live streaming a video, taking questions from viewers, and linking them directly to an in-platform product shopping list.
Instagram is being developed by its owner, Meta Platforms (aka Facebook), into a major social commerce destination, with brands setting up Shops featuring curated product lists. In the US, the Checkout feature enables in-platform purchases.
And Pinterest has been rolling out a suite of shopping options to various countries, including the UK. Its ‘Shop’ tab, for example, displays products inspired by a user’s own boards or searches.
Such developments prompted reports in autumn 2021 that PayPal was buying Pinterest, causing shares in Pinterest to soar. PayPal has since said it “is not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest at this time,” but similar mergers between the worlds of finance and social media seem likely in the near future.
Streaming services and social selling
Those same social selling principles are now being applied to TV and streaming services, where product placement is getting a makeover for the digital age!
Previously, viewers who were inspired by their favourite shows would need to click elsewhere to research and buy items.
Now, fans of fashion-forward Netflix show ‘Emily in Paris’ can purchase key items from characters’ wardrobes direct from the platform.
Thanks to partnerships with fashion houses including AZ Factory, Zeus + Dione, and a range of Chanel-owned labels, viewers can literally buy into the show’s luxury aesthetic.
So, while ‘Emily in Paris’ seems like escapist fun, in fact, it’s increasingly merging with real life.
Linney: your social commerce partner
The world of commerce is changing at a dizzying pace, and your brand cannot afford to be left behind.
Linney can help determine which channels are right for you, develop an omnichannel strategy that maximises opportunities and deliver creative marketing services to boost your brand.