A recent Huffington Post article penned by contributor Steven Rossenbaum takes an interesting looks at the social commerce trends that are currently dominating the thinking of online retail marketers. Broadly speaking, social commerce encompasses being able to buy goods or services from a third party, within a social media app or website, without having to leave it to complete the transaction. Currently, the social media platforms that are seeing significant social commerce activity are Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram. However, others, including Twitter, are expected to step up their efforts to tap into the revenue streams social commerce can provide over the next couple of years.
A 2016 survey carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers spoke to nearly 23,000 people internationally. It found that 78% of consumers make purchase decisions, or decide against a purchase, on the basis of social media influence.
So, how does social commerce work in practise across the main platforms that have already developed functionality to support it? Ecommerce brands can create a store on Facebook that allows them to upload inventory listings and sell and manage orders directly from the Facebook store’s page. Facebook ads can also be run that link directly into the Facebook store meaning the whole ecommerce funnel from advertising to sale and customer feedback all sits within Facebook itself.
‘Buyable pins’ were introduced by Pinterest back in the summer of 2015. Pinterest content with a buyable pin has a ‘Buy It’ button with payment taking place directly via either Apple Pay or debit and credit cards. Another social commerce feature the image-centric social media has introduced is ‘Shop the Look’. This allows users to click on one Pinterest post and then find others featuring similar items that have buyable pins. A number of major retailers, including United Colours of Benetton, Quicksilver, Swarovski and Nordstrom are already highly active on Pinterest.
Instagram and Snapchat have also launched shoppable video. Shoppable video posts provide potential buyers with information on products featured in content, digitally overlaid and accessible by hovering the cursor. To complete a purchase users then simply swipe up and the brand’s in-social media ecommerce page pops up.
Marketing Week data perhaps unsurprisingly indicates that the social commerce trend is being driven by younger demographics on mobile devices. A survey conducted by the industry publication found a third of 18 to 24-year olds said they would feel comfortable making a purchase directly from Facebook. 27% said the same of Instagram and 20% for Twitter. Among the next demographic age group, 25 to 34-year olds, that drops slightly to 30% for Facebook and 10% among 45 to 65-year olds.
However, as social commerce becomes a growing trend for social media users, it can be expected that more and more consumers will accept it as normal and will feel as comfortable with in-social media purchases as with any other form of ecommerce.