It’s 2019 and social media is evolving way beyond social purposes alone. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have taken giant strides toward implementing a seamless eCommerce experience into its functionalities.
From discovery to conversion, commerce can now be facilitated from your favorite social media channels, across devices and countless supportive apps. Social media and other digital platforms have entirely transformed the shopping process, making it hardly recognizable to what existed merely a decade ago. The question is, how will this change shape eCommerce and customer loyalty?
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Facebook Marketplace & Instagram Checkout
In 2016, Facebook decides to introduce its Marketplace as a way for people to buy and sell within their regional communities. It’s offerings were simple, P2P buying and selling similar to Craigslist but facilitating the sale using Facebook Messenger rather than email.
Fast forward two years and Facebook announces it would now allow businesses to place ads of their own in the Marketplace, expanding it to both P2P and B2C. And it’s definitely not stopping there, Facebook is transparent in its intention to continue adding more B2C options into its otherwise P2P social platform. With the infinitesimal amounts of user data Facebook is sitting on, it has the opportunity to make big waves in the eCommerce space with its hyper-targeting algorithm capabilities.
Today, consumers can scroll through a brand’s social media feed, see something they like, and purchase a product within seconds. With Facebook’s strides into social eCommerce, Instagram the Facebook-owned and visually-driven social media platform platform, has taken it one step further.
Instagram recently released a huge feature update to its US user base in the app’s history: Instagram Checkout. Instagram invited 20 of the most popular brands to partner with Instagram Checkout for its beta roll-out including Adidas, H&M and Warby Parker. Though still limited, it’s taken a giant leap forward for social eCommerce allowing Instagram users to make purchases directly through the app.
Who’s doing it right
Poshmark pioneered social commerce in a way, by the very nature of its P2P mobile fashion marketplace app and business model. The thought foundation that shopping is inherently “social” is what’s behind Poshmark’s success in the first place.
On the topic of social commerce, Founder & CEO of Poshmark Manish Chandra once said “By combining the best of eCommerce with a vibrant online community, social commerce is emerging as an effective model to deliver incredible experiences to this new generation of shoppers, and keep them coming back time and time again.”
They even ran their own social commerce report for 2018. According to the report, since its launch in 2011, Poshmark has grown to 30 million users who spend an average of 23-27 minutes every day on their app, between buying, selling and socializing with the rest of the Poshmark community. All signs point ahead with other Poshmark report findings like 74% of millennials saying social media “influences their shopping” and the prediction that nearly 70% of eCommerce sales will come through mobile by 2021.
Superdry is a great example of a brand leveraging Instagram’s shoppable posts and helping their customers have a seamless buying experience from social discovery of visually engaging content to purchase, via checkout on its mobile site. A key differentiator here is that this entire process is perceived to be contained within Instagram’s environment, as Superdry has made the experience of their mobile store congruent with Instagram’s UX, in addition to being simple and straightforward.
MADE has been trailblazing their omni-channel strategy in the eCommerce world, focusing primarily on visual platforms Pinterest and Instagram. They understand their customer base and what drives their purchases, visually appealing and stylish inspiration for unique home goods and designer furniture.
Not only do they produce and post their own high-quality content, MADE also does a great job at driving user-generated content and encouraging submissions (#MADEdesign) with the incentive of being featured on their social media accounts. This is a validation in itself being reposted by a brand known primarily for their high-end, inspirational style. All in all, MADE understands the customer experience and uses their social appeal to digitally and seamlessly convert their fans into customers via their online store.
Why Social Commerce is Changing the Industry
With its eye-catching creative and visual content, established followings and large-scale reach, social media has opened the doors for so many opportunities to connect brands with consumers and vice versa. It’s no wonder people have already started flocking to the ease and accessibility of instant shopping right from their social fees.
According to a 2019 survey from Hootsuite, 60% of Instagram users claimed to use the platform to seek and discover new products already. Combine that measure with the social platform’s reach, and that has the potential to be a heavy-hitting sales channel for companies worldwide.
According to a recent study from Social Media Today, 95% of online adults (18-34) are most likely to follow a brand on social media. Brands that are optimizing and aligning their digital and social strategies across multiple channels are the ones who are quickly moving forward with the competitive advantage.
How Social Commerce Affects Customer Loyalty
Social media is a direct avenue to develop social customer relationships and build a familiar rapport with consumers. People are loyal to how they feel about a brand, and brand love is largely driven by consistency, quality and presence.
Brands can utilize social media insights and outlets to track and deliver personalized human interactions and thoughtfully-crafted experiences to their customers. Positioning your brand as a viable product on social media is a great omni-channel marketing strategy. Social media should be a main focus compared to other avenues like print media and traditional ads. This is the future of eCommerce and so many brands are already adopting that mentality.
The Future of Social Commerce
As of March 2019, there are an average of 1.56 billion daily active users on Facebook and more than one billion monthly active users on Instagram. Your audience is on social media anyways, so why not bring the shopping directly to them?
eCommerce websites can only partially deliver on what consumers want today, but social eCommerce is emerging as a superpower when it comes to retail. Between its discoverability, ease of use, social human interactions, personalized algorithms, and user experience; it’s a natural improvement on the current shopping experience.
By using popular and effective social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, brands have a great opportunity to supercharge the online shopping experience of the past, and get a new competitive edge with their customers.
Jumping onto new technologies like Instagram Checkout as quickly as possible is an easy way for your brand to stay ahead of the curve. And as time goes on, the number of integrations with other eCommerce and loyalty platforms will only grow.
Unsure how to optimize your messaging across all of your social and sales channels? Need guidance on best practices for integrating visual and branded content to drive your eCommerce results? Want to tie it all into your customer loyalty growth efforts and track the results? Talk to Annex Cloud today and we’ll find the solution that’s right for you!