Social shopping or social commerce is taking over the global digital marketplace. Worldwide sales through social media platforms were approximately $560 billion in 2020. Forecasters predict that online purchases directly through social media channels will reach roughly $2.9 trillion by 2026. (Statista)
What Is Social Shopping?
Social commerce is “the integration of social experiences and e-commerce transactions in a single path to purchase, enabled by a platform.” (Accenture.com)
“Social shopping is when brands tag products to their social content and allow users to shop the products directly from the content.” (Taggshop)
In other words, everything begins and ends on your social channel, unlike click-ads that take your viewer to your brand’s website.
Social shopping doesn’t replace content marketing, though. You still want to consistently post authentic and engaging content to increase your organic reach and drive consumers to your shoppable content feeds.
Social commerce creates a streamlined experience for your consumers because they can begin and complete their buyer experience within one platform, with no need to leave. This is different from social media marketing, where you produce content to introduce your products and services and then direct them to your website.
Social Shopping Is Growing Around The World
Social commerce isn’t new. Instagram rolled out an in-shop app in 2016. Their app and others that followed empowered consumers to shop from the internet.
The pandemic accelerated the growth of online shopping, as shoppers in lockdown turned to the internet to access the products and services they needed. E-commerce brands that tapped into the power of live streaming succeeded in retaining their customers. In addition, they expanded their market reach, slipping into empty digital spaces created by brands that were still pivoting to an online business model.
The Use of Social Media Continues To Grow
Approximately 3.5 billion people use social media.
On average, consumers spend roughly 2.5 hours per day on social media channels. For a vast majority of the world, social media channels are the entry point for everything they need: news, entertainment, communication, and shopping.
China Leads The Way
China is the most advanced when it comes to social shopping. According to data, one out of every two shoppers in China purchased a product or service in 2021 directly through a social channel. For example, in 2021, Taobao Live, Xiaohongshu, and other domestic social platforms generated more than $400 billion in sales. (Accenture Research, Social Commerce, 2021)
Following behind China is America, with 36% of internet users shopping through social platforms. But, again, the trend is upward, with digital market researchers predicting sales of $79.64 billion by 2025.
Venture Capital Is Pouring Into Social Shopping
A recent Techcrunch article reports that the social e-commerce market in Egypt might be worth more than $14.8 billion by 2024. According to data, more than 1.2 million smaller brands sell their services and products via social commerce. This reality has not escaped the attention of venture capitalists. For example, App startup Brimore successfully raised more than $25 million in a Series A round. Brimore’s founders are mission-driven. Their vision is to help smaller brands compete in a market saturated with big brands who dominate the commerce infrastructure. And it’s succeeding as more sellers jump on board, especially solopreneurs and women-owned small businesses.
Social Commerce Stats
As of early 2021, over 22% of U.S. social commerce transactions were made on Facebook, and 13% were on Instagram. (Statista) Other platforms taking the lead in social shopping are Snapchat and TikTok.
Influencer Marketing Factory’s Social Commerce report found some interesting consumer preferences that should impact your decision to add social shopping to your digital marketing strategy.
Social shopping is more popular with consumers aged 18 to 34, who will account for 62% of global social commerce spending by 2025 (Accenture). If this is your target audience, you want to add or beef up your social shopping elements.
Where do consumers like to shop?
Over 45 years of age: 30% prefer in-store shopping, 38% online, and 31% both. If this is your target group, you want to focus on a multi-channel marketing approach.
- 18-24: 12% prefer in-store shopping
- 25-34: 14% prefer in-store
- 35-44 years: old only 9% prefer in-store shopping.
Further, researchers found that 7 out of 10 consumers prefer to checkout directly on your app rather than a third-party website. And, 56% say they prefer social commerce because it’s faster and easier.
82% surveyed said they discovered a product on social media and purchased it directly on their phone through the brand’s app. So be sure all your content is optimized for mobile.
Social Shopping Levels The Playing Field
“Large businesses and Fortune 500 companies have until now traditionally controlled e-commerce. Power is noticeably shifting with the growth of social commerce, enabling smaller size businesses to thrive in this space.” (Margo Mulvihill, Director of Where Digital Goes)
Social shopping means that big brands no longer have a lock on millions of potential customers. Instead, smaller brands and individuals are empowered to reach the same number of consumers.
Furthermore, consumer surveys indicate that buyers prefer to do business with smaller brands.
For instance, 59% of social buyers say they are more likely to buy from a small business through shopping social commerce.
And 44% are more likely to buy a brand they have not encountered previously. (Accenture Research, Social Commerce, 2021)
So Do You Still Need A Website?
It may seem that you don’t need a website, but you do. Consumers buy products or services from brands they trust, usually based on the recommendations of friends, family, or other people close to them. Your organic audience, who have not developed a level of familiarity with your brand, will look for a website.
“The future of social commerce is a mix of trust and value.” (Katherine McKee Morphology Consulting)
Unfortunately, there is still a trust gap and trust in social commerce may be even more pronounced. Consumers don’t trust advertisements or the brands behind them. Even confidence in influencer marketing is dwindling. Chief among consumers’ concerns are that the product will not be as displayed or they won’t have refund protection.
Building trust is the primary element in any commerce strategy, but more so in social shopping. A website establishes that you are a legitimate business. Further, it is a platform for engaging with your support team or customer success team.
Your website blog serves as a repository of helpful articles that address your consumers’ concerns and interests. Your blog content demonstrates that you’re an authority in your niche. Additionally, your website is a place to host your brand community. Online communities are an essential source of referral information for consumers wanting to know about brand authenticity.
You’ll need to put extra work into improving the trust factor between you and the organic consumer community, which you can do with your website and social media content.
How To Make Social Shopping Work For Your Business
Social commerce provides an enriched shopping experience that enables personalization, excitement, authenticity, and the ability to build trust.
Your ultimate goal is to build brand ambassadors—representing the highest trust level and authority in your industry.
The basics are the same:
- Who is your audience?
- What do they need?
- What types of content does your audience share with family and friends?
To succeed in the social shopping space, you need to keep your content niche-specific, unlike the more broad-reaching content that you create for content marketing.
Remember those old info-commercials? Make these for your social media channels, but shorter and trendy, with imagery and messaging personalized for your target audience.
“The steady rise in time spent on social media reflects how essential these platforms are in our daily life. They’re reshaping how people buy and sell, which provides platforms and brands with new opportunities for user experiences and revenue streams.” (Robin Murdoch, Accenture)
Three Basics Of Social Shopping
Focus on Experiences
Display your services or products naturally, utilizing video or graphics that enable your audience to imagine themselves there. Emphasize the benefits they will derive from your services or products.
Optimize for Mobile
Your consumers visit your social channels on their smartphones or other mobile devices. To succeed with social shopping, be sure to optimize all your content and sites for mobile. For example, if you use social selling apps on your website, ensure that the shopping gallery is optimized for mobile viewers. You want the mobile experience to be similar to the desktop experience—easy to navigate, click, and checkout.
Experiment, Use Variety and Have Fun
Shoppable posts can be images, story slide-ups, videos, articles, blog posts, or six-second ads. The consumer can directly access the service or product, price, and check out details by clicking the tag.
Publish social commerce content through influencers or your own brand channels.
Shoppable posts are not limited to products. You can also create them for ticketed events such as a webinar, gallery opening, special sale, travel expedition, etc.
Wondering how to make it all work?
If you haven’t already started creating shoppable posts, here is an excellent article that provides all the details for every viable social media platform.
Social shopping is not a simple trend that will disappear or become less relevant. On the contrary, it’s gaining strength, especially among Millennials and Gen Z’ers.
- Social commerce will become the go-to platform for your consumers.
- Keep your customers at the heart of every interaction you have with them.
- Publish engaging, authentic, consumer-focused content on your social media channels, and you’ll have an equal opportunity to attract potential consumers like big brands.
Let us know what you think in the comment box below. Already publishing shoppable content? How’s it going? And don’t forget to sign up to follow our blog.