Is Social Media eCommerce Growing?
In this article we will be discussing whether or not social media eCommerce is growing, and why.
“TikTok has been testing and learning with eCommerce offerings and partnerships. We’re excited to experiment with new commerce opportunities that enable people to discover and engage with what they love.” –– according to an official from TikTok.
One of the questions on the mind of every eCommerce stakeholder in the last few years is whether social media will become the major eCommerce platform. Of course, TikTok is not the only platform that is championing social eCommerce. Facebook and Instagram are ahead in the race. Here’s the thing, in the last 10 years, the retail space gradually shifted towards eCommerce. One can assume that this type of change will also happen in the eCommerce space such that social media eCommerce will catch up with traditional eCommerce and replace market leaders such as eBay, Walmart, and Amazon even.
The Future of eCommerce Lies in More Intuitiveness
Consumers have gotten so comfortable with eCommerce shopping that all they want now is a seamless shopping experience coupled with quick delivery. They don’t mind free deliveries too. Even as we are gradually opening physical retail stores this year; the truth is that buyers are using eCommerce channels more now than ever before. Hence, the best way to provide the right balance of consumer shopping experience will be to combine both channels –– on-site and digital. Physical retail stores should add eCommerce channels, and eCommerce brands should provide physical store experiences by having regular pop-up events.
However, the important thing to note about eCommerce and social media eCommerce is that consumers want personalized experiences that interest and resonate with them. Not only that, but consumers also want ads and social media content to blend seamlessly with social media platforms. An ad or marketing content should not feel out of place. For example, while TikTok is all about short quirky clips, Instagram content tends to be flashier and aesthetic. Creating intuitive shopping experiences automatically gives you an edge in the competitive market.
Social Media Makes It Easy for Buyers to Make Quick Purchases
Social eCommerce pioneers such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok have started experimenting with AR. These social media platforms believe that AR can boost engagement and sales. According to research by Deloitte, 71% of buyers believe that AR-optimized experiences will encourage them to shop more regularly.
Instagram, which is the market leader of social eCommerce, released an AR try-on feature in October 2019 that allows users to try on eyeglasses and cosmetics on the product page before buying. Users can see how the product, e.g., a lipstick or sunglass will look on them, right there on the product page. AR technology makes it easier for buyers to sample products online by allowing them to visualize the products, and this, in turn, increases their excitement about the product. As a result, buyers can make quick purchases.
Buyers Value Brands That Recognize Them
In the last year, business owners have had to majorly target social media platforms to reach their customers. Surely, we know why. Since most people have reduced their outdoor activities and movements, social media replaced the outdoor world. It is only wise for brands to go find their customers where they are located, and as mentioned already, that’s on social media platforms.
Social media platforms such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok have created an enabling environment for retailers with features that allow them to reach more audiences and create brand awareness. Social commerce makes finding and interacting with brands easy for buyers. Hence, customers would rather engage brands that make interaction and shopping experience seamless than brands that are hard to reach.
As a retailer, it may not be productive for you to create individual channels on each social media platform when there’s a better way to go about it by using omnichannel strategies. Additionally, you should also put your brand on apps, websites, and marketplaces. Use all available channels to reach your customers and provide interactive experiences for them.
Social Commerce Is Great for New Retailers and Small Businesses
Anyone can start selling on social media, even if you’re a newbie. If you can put effort into learning creative content creation to build awareness, social media can be the right kick your brand needs to grow. For instance, when potential buyers find your Pinterest, TikTok, or Instagram page, a quick “slide up to buy” post can lead to increased sales. Some new retailers don’t even start with an eCommerce store, so potential buyers will have to send them a direct message to buy.
On the other hand, traditional eCommerce often requires you to create an eCommerce store which you will pay to build or put your business on popular marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. Next, you will start spending your time and money on SEO, paid ads, etc before you can create awareness for your products. Social commerce makes it easier and more affordable to build brand awareness than traditional eCommerce. While selling on marketplaces doesn’t require you to have your own website, marketplaces tend to have more control over the vendors. Social commerce, however, gives sellers more control over their brands.
Social Commerce Should Not Replace Traditional eCommerce
Not all social media platforms support all kinds of products/services. For example, Facebook doesn’t allow the sales of alcoholic beverages on its platform, and that’s a shame because it is the biggest social commerce platform. Retailers who sell alcoholic beverages won’t be able to benefit from Facebook’s large audience. The irony!
Social commerce is similar to selling on eCommerce marketplaces; you’re at the mercy of the platform and its policies. You will not be able to create unique brand experiences for your potential customers. This is why retailers need to find the right balance between traditional eCommerce and social media commerce. They should complement each other, not replace each other.
Trust Is a Major Concern In Social Commerce Landscape
The quickness with which anyone can create a social media account to start selling without providing any important information about who is behind the account is worrisome. Not to mention that vendors often deactivate their accounts after defrauding buyers. At this point, social media platforms may not be able to do anything about that. Everyone should be free to create a social media account without being interrogated and scrutinized. Yet, customers also have the right to be cautious of the brands that are selling on social media.
Of course, vendors who are in the traditional eCommerce space can also scam buyers, but buyers are more familiar with how traditional eCommerce works than social media commerce. As long as trust is an important factor in consumer-to-vendor interaction, social media commerce has a long way to go.
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