2017 has been something of a breakthrough year for social commerce. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media companies have released social shopping functionalities such as shoppable posts and messenger-based calls to action. The role of social media influencers on retail trends also continues to grow. However, despite the influence of social media on our shopping behavior, we still don’t do a great deal of spending directly within social media. Only 2% of retail sales are currently classed as directly social commerce.
However, with the big social media players focused on social commerce as the next key driver of revenue growth, we can expect that to change over the course of 2018 and beyond. Tech media Techavio estimates that by 2021, annual social commerce revenues will have surpassed $165 billion. For marketers, keeping on top of social commerce developments is expected to be crucial. Here we list 5 key tools that will help them boost revenues generated within social media next year:
BigCommerce has made itself the leading platform in social commerce over the past couple of years. It is the first product to facilitate sales directly through the Facebook Messsenger app. At the moment the functionality is only available to the platform’s US-based clients but is planned to be rolled out internationally early 2018. The product also syncs inventory across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Other benefits of the BigCommerce platform include adding an ecommerce store to the business’s Facebook page, which also feeds into users’ News Feeds, Buyable Pins on Pinterest and shoppable Instagram posts.
Amazon Spark is a new product rolled out by the online retail giant this summer. It constitutes a social feed of user-generated visual content within the Amazon app and has some resemblance to both Instagram and Pinterest. For now, images can only be posted on Spark by Amazon Prime subscribers. However, social commerce marketers can work with influencers on the new functionality. Expect Spark to be a new and growing facet to social commerce marketing in 2018.
Beetailer is a social commerce platform that makes integration of a regular ecommerce store with Facebook spectacularly easy. Existing stores built on Magento, Shopify, PrestaShop and several other ecommerce website solutions can be directly integrated with Facebook through Beetailer, or a shop can be built directly within the platform if the user doesn’t already have one.
Functionalities include the customization of inventory to show subsets on Facebook and multiple tabs for different shop sections can also be created on the shop’s Facebook business page. Tools to help optimize Facebook ads are another feature as is analytics and product-specific comment threads.
WeChat is the Chinese-speaking world’s most popular social media network. While its core is a messenger service, WeChat has developed its commercial side and social commerce options far more than the social media giants we are more familiar with in the West.
WeChat combines different interface qualities of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp with a digital wallet that allows users to order cabs, food, pay bills or even the sum due in a physical shop directly from the app. It is expected that 2018 will see WeChat’s Western user base expand considerably, which, with all of the social commerce functionalities it provides, is good news for retailers and marketers.
Messenger bots is the final big trend for 2018 we’ll cover here. Facebook launched Messenger payments recently, though initially only between individuals. Next year businesses will also be able to sell and take payments directly through Messenger. Chat bots, which will usually be triggered by some form of buying behaviour such as clicking on an ad, will then be able to ask users what they are looking for and lead them through an shopping experience finishing at checkout.
Other nice applications of Messenger bots will be to provide customers with delivery updates on ordered products or inform a user when an item they have previously shown interest in is on sale.
While there will certainly be other tools and trends that go big in social commerce next year, we believe that these five will certainly feature among the most prominent. It’s set to be a breakthrough year for this quickly growing retail niche, so make sure you don’t miss out!