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Social Media: A New Way to Shop Online

Social Media: A New Way to Shop Online

 E-commerce has changed the way people shop, giving retailers and businesses new avenues to interact and engage their customers. Millennials are currently the most valuable target demographic for modern retailers. As they are also the most avid users of social media, a crossover was all but inevitable.  

Retailers, realizing the power of social media, have used these platforms for a while now to engage with their customers online. Social media also lets retailers market their products in a more interactive environment.

Recently, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have been investing in retail. This captures wide consumer interest and boosts both revenues as well as followers. As for retailers, they can use social media platforms to better understand consumer behavior and trends.

UGC or user-generated content is one of the most valuable data sources for retailers. Millennials put a lot of trust and faith in peer evaluation of products. Studies show that reviews and recommendations by fellow shoppers, rather than brand messaging, motivate customers to buy products online.

Here are a few instances of how social media platforms are leveraging the retail space:

Facebook Shop and Marketplace

Facebook has a feature called Facebook Shop. Retailers can add the Shop tab to their business page. It lets retailers display their products and sell directly from their company page itself. Considering the huge number of users on Facebook, this offers retailers a wide audience to convert into customers. Retailers can upload a product catalog to their page and customers can browse the products and buy them without having to leave the page. It also allows retailers to manage orders, and mark them as shipped or canceled right on the page itself.

Facebook also introduced Facebook Marketplace, an online market for retailers to display products. This offers free organic distribution for retailers’ products. It curates content and provides product recommendations based on user preferences and relevance. This ensures higher conversion from a user to a consumer. Like Facebook Shop, there is no listing fee involved. It is an online platform for retailers to sell to their customers.

#Instashopping on Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms with more than 1 billion active users; and about 60% or a whopping 600 million people, seek out and discover products on the app. Instagram has introduced shoppable posts which allow customers to go from discovery to buying without having to leave the app. Retailers can add up to 5 product tags per picture on business accounts only. They can only tag products from their Facebook Shop catalog. These tags redirect the customers to a product page that allows them to buy the products.

This seamless and hassle-free shopping experience has a wide appeal for the customers. In June 2018, they added Shoppable Stories which are an added advantage as about 400 million users view Stories every month. As of late 2018, Instagram also added a shopping channel to the Explore page, which is in its testing phase.

Shop and Cop by Snapchat

Snapchat  has introduced ads and product catalogs through its self-service ad buying platform. Recently, they released a dedicated shopping channel called Shop and Cop on the app which will feature exclusive offers and limited time deals through Shopify. These channels will be available in the Discovery section of the Snapchat app. Shop and Cop will feature social influencer posts and content. Shopify capabilities will allow in-app purchases ensuring a smooth shopping experience without the user leaving the app. Snapchat will curate products while Shopify will take care of the buying end. Moreover, Snapchat and Amazon have announced a partnership on a visual search tool. This will allow customers to use the Snapchat camera to search for products on Amazon.



2018 saw a lot of innovations with social media intersecting with e-commerce to give the rise of social commerce.  Retailers stand to make big bucks off of these popular platforms by better understanding shopper purchase behavior and using it to their advantage. They can conduct market research, market their products better and even sell, all in one place. With these innovations, it's only a matter of time before social media takes over the world of retail.

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E-commerce is moving towards social commerce – How to get it right

E-commerce is moving towards social commerce - How to get it right?

Social commerce is often described as the intersection between social media and e-commerce. While this holds value, there is a lot of traffic with no direction. There’s no doubt that social selling is a powerful and an increasingly influential sales tool.

According to recent BI Intelligence, the top 500 retailers earned an estimated $6.5 billion from social shopping in 2017, up 24% from 2016.

There are various forms that social commerce adorns, from group buying to social shopping; from mobile apps to retailers adding social features, or shopping integrated into social media. All of these forms have one thing in common - the use of social technology to replicate age-old buying models in the digital sphere.

Whether it is girls going shopping together in a store or asking a friend for advice on power tools, moving them to online would result in them having a social commerce experience. Taking another instance of bartering, here, instead of the traditional method of trading goods or services, shoppers are trading personal data such as buying habits and preferences for access to easy shopping portals.

There are social platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram which have incorporated a “Buy now” button that can turn a static image into a product with a click. However, since the story came about how social platforms are using and monetizing user data, there was a certain amount of wariness among the users about sharing their data on these networks.

The key here is to find a model of social commerce that would work the world over. Some of the things to keep in mind -

  • Provide the shoppers the ability to earn credit for sharing their own data and of their social network.
  • Enable retailers to own the relationship with their customers while also providing access to insights and goodwill from happy customers. 
  • Provide every individual the ability to turn into an influencer. 
  • Star
    Using the existing social media networks as a channel to interact with the brand itself.
person using laptop that is showing a webpage of images

How to make it work

Say a user wants to purchase a mobile phone. The ideal route would be to go the website of the retailer of their choice (assuming if the retailer provides a social commerce experience). They can then choose the selection of the models of their favorite mobile phones.

They now post a picture of the phones on their social networks and ask friends to vote on which phone they think the user should buy.

By setting up this vote, the user can then earn shop credits. Their friends who voted for the products can also earn shop credits by that action. In this scenario, there is no prerequisite of having a large social media presence to be valuable for the business. This action inadvertently turns the user into a micro-influencer.

The information gathered during the voting helps the retailer sell more effectively. They learn which of the products is most appealing and have the potential to become hot sellers, and then accordingly manage stock or change how they display their products. They also gain access to an expanded audience. This eventually, helps them to build a relationship with their customers which can help them build brand loyalty.

Summary

Social channels have a major role to play. Besides influencing purchase decisions, social media is a larger part of the product discovery and research phase in the shopping journey.

The next few years will see social commerce expand its influence if it efficiently benefits the consumers and businesses. The world of commerce is on the verge of disruption, thanks to technological innovations, data collection, and social media. If social commerce is achieved correctly, the future of retailers and shoppers will widen.

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