When the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, everyone including students, employees, and business owners became more exposed to social media following stay-at-home orders.
While online buying and selling has become more prominent, different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have joined the social commerce game. Given this, social media appears to be the future of eCommerce. But is social media really the future of eCommerce? Let’s talk about the changes in consumer behavior that may lead to Social Commerce becoming the next big thing.
The Rise of eCommerce
Technology and innovation have caused the rise of eCommerce. However, global circumstances, like the recent COVID-19 pandemic, have also brought on new changes in the eCommerce industry. As early as May 2020, eCommerce transactions reached $82.5 billion — a whopping 77% increase from 2019. Traditional year-over-year increases suggested that this would normally have taken four to six years to achieve.
United Parcel Service Inc. gained higher profits and a 13% growth in revenue in the June 2020 quarter. UPS also saw a 65% increase in deliveries to residences during the same quarter. Experts predict online spending of more than $476 billion by the end of 2024.
Changes in Shopping Behaviors
Social distancing and strict quarantine protocols have brought changes in consumers’ shopping behaviors. For instance, there was a 35% increase from the expected growth of online shopping in essential categories. These include groceries, household supplies, and over-the-counter medicine. Even the expected growth of purchasing skin-care products, jewelry, apparel, and other discretionary categories exceeded 15%.
As consumers aim to avoid long lines at supermarkets, many choose BOPIS or buy-online-pick-up-in-store and other delivery services. More shoppers also now have the desire to buy local products. This is reflected in both the products they buy and the way they support community stores.
Social Commerce: Why Is It So Important?
As eCommerce business owners and marketers, you should understand the role of social commerce in attracting your target audience, gaining more loyal customers, and growing your brand. Social commerce is what brings eCommerce functionality directly into various social media platforms. If consumers are satisfied with your product or service, they can easily share and recommend it on social media. This can help make the product go viral.
Social commerce platforms like Facebook have business retail store pages that allow consumers to browse and shop without leaving the platform. Imagine how convenient it is for your customers to scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and just click the buy button after seeing your product.
Pinterest also has buyable pins that allow users to purchase your products without leaving the platform. According to Pinterest, 93% of pinners use the platform to plan their purchases. Then, 87% of them have purchased after seeing a product they’re interested in.
What Is Social Selling and Why Should eCommerce Stores Start Using It?
Consumers are wiser than ever. They often do their research and read reviews to confirm the quality of a product before making a purchase. One way that eCommerce business owners and marketers can effectively respond to this need is using social media. Social selling serves as a more direct strategy to build a connection with your target audience. Through social selling, you are making your company more available to your potential customers while promptly addressing their concerns.
Also, eCommerce stores should start adopting social selling as it can help generate more valuable leads. Through social media, it’s easier for you to advertise your product and make it more personalized.
Social selling can also help increase brand awareness. Making your eCommerce store more visible in customers’ feeds increases your chances of introducing your brand. Other customers who already have regular contact with your company are more likely to recommend it to their social media friends. Additionally, social selling can help increase traffic to your site. Thus, it can impact your ranking on search engine results.
The Future of Social Commerce
Given that about half of the world’s population is active on social media, many eCommerce businesses have started using the platform to engage both existing and potential customers. With the power of social media and eCommerce, the future of social commerce seems to be promising.
The restrictions brought by the pandemic urged many retailers to sell online. One way to effectively do this is through chatbots. These help give your customers a faster and more convenient purchase experience and an easier way to offer customer support. You can set up Facebook messenger bots in 30 minutes or less.
Video and Live Streaming
All leading social media platforms have a video feature through stories. Many eCommerce businesses have started using apps like Tiktok to sell their products. Others put up storefronts on Snapchat and use Instagram Reels to advertise their products. Live streaming is also becoming more popular, with different bands showcasing their products and connecting more with their audience.
Influencers now play a huge role in social commerce. As brand ambassadors, they help you generate sales directly on their social media channels. As they have a wider reach, especially to millennials and Gen Z, they can guide brands on what certain audiences like. You can then easily create campaigns or customize your products based on their interests. These days with the help of social media management tools with AI features you can discover influencers that are relevant to your niche.
Bringing Localization to eCommerce and Social Media
To engage new audiences, you have to bring localization to eCommerce and social media. Providing well-written product descriptions in your customers’ language is one way to earn their trust. Research showed that 65% of online shoppers prefer to purchase products with the information provided in their native language. However, localization does not just end in translation. Consider local messages and cultural differences.
What Native Selling Means
With native selling, you provide paid content through articles, infographics, or videos. You adopt the tone of the publisher where the content is placed and subtly introduce your product. This content will be available in different formats like TV, traditional and digital print publications, and social media channels. As the future of eCommerce is linked to social media, explore marketing your products through these social channels.
Given the changes in technology and global circumstances, the future of eCommerce is wide and bright. Thus, the eCommerce market needs to adapt to new forms and trends like social commerce. However, eCommerce is here to stay and it’s not going anywhere. It’s just getting bigger.