This year, social commerce is projected to rise by over 34% and represent 4.3% of all retail ecommerce sales.
That means for any brands not yet taking notice of social commerce, now is the time to start. Because while social media has long been the place to go to explore and research brands, it’s becoming the place we shop them too. In this article, we take you through:
A trend in acceleration
The pandemic increased both our social media usage and online shopping adoption, globally. This proved fertile ground for the social commerce trend to accelerate. Data from eMarketer reveals that in 2020, social commerce surged by nearly 38% and apparel and accessories remain the largest category.
It’s a trend spearheaded by consumer desire. 97% of Gen Z consumers use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration. And according to market research firm Kantar, 83% of consumers on TikTok say seeing trending content has inspired them to make a purchase.
This won’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit, which now has more than 2.9 billion views on TikTok. When the feta pasta recipe was trending, Aussie supermarkets reported the ingredients flying off the shelves. Meanwhile skincare brand, The Ordinary, credited the platform with the sale of 100,000 units of its facemask in just a few weeks.
Social commerce features set out to close that naturally-occurring loop. Removing friction and allowing users to make inspired purchases easier and faster, all inside the app. Brands can not only sell more, but better track the direct impact of social content.
According to Mobile Marketing Magazine, “TikTok has seen a 553% rise in shopping in the past 12 months” however, “Instagram is still ahead of the social commerce game, with 64% shopping on the platform last year, followed by Facebook (45%) and TikTok (24%)”.
Influencer’s role in social commerce
For any brand looking to harness the power of social commerce, influencers are the perfect partners. With their loyal followings and engaging content they have already proved highly effective at capturing the attention of audiences and driving awareness – then at driving traffic to ecommerce sites or the app store.
It stands to reason that driving in-app conversions will be even easier. No wonder the majority of brands testing out new social commerce features are doing so with influencers.
Even if the conversion doesn’t happen via an influencer’s channel, these talented content creators can still provide brands with the kind of thumb-stopping mobile assets that can be used in brand ads or their own channel.
How each platform can drive sales
Platforms are rushing to offer more features and integrations to maximise this potential. Here’s an overview of what’s being offered by each platform.
Launched last year at the height of the pandemic, Facebook Shops are free online stores customers can access on both Facebook and Instagram. Businesses can choose the products they want to sell and customise the look and feel of their shop. Here’s an example.
It’s worth noting that the true social commerce experience is only available for select retailers in the US for now. So you’ll only be able to purchase without leaving the app if the business has enabled checkout and is in the US. Otherwise when you see a product you like, you’ll either be redirected to the business’ website.
More recently, Facebook announced Live Shopping Fridays, a US series of events from beauty and fashion brands during which consumers can ask questions about the products, get styling tips and, of course, buy. The platform also recently launched new AI and AR features. They will allow consumers to discover and visualise products with try-on immersive experiences before making a purchase. Facebook Shops will now also be available on WhatsApp and Facebook Marketplace.
Facebook Shops can be accessed by customers on Instagram too. When they are, they come with a ‘checkout on Instagram’ option. Again, this is only in the US for now. This checkout option relies on Facebook’s Commerce Manager, or via integration with platform partners like Shopify and BigCommerce.
While testing has been focused in the US, Instagram is continually investing in trials and pushing their shopping options to the centre of user experience. The dedicated Shop tab was launched in Australia in November last year. And within that tab, there’s an even newer launch, Drops. A section that highlights various items and products that are currently trending, accessible at the top of the Shopping screen, if you’re in the US.
Pinterest Shop Tab
In April 2020, Pinterest launched its Shop tab. Now, when a user searches for ‘Spring fashion’ or ‘DIY projects’ they’ll be shown two tabs: ‘Explore’ and ‘Shop’. This separation makes it easier for users to find products that are available to buy. Previously shoppable pins and inspirational content were mixed together.
More recently they launched Shopping List, which lets users save their product pins in one place and receive price drop notifications. Users in the US and the UK can also use “The Goods by Pinterest” feature, which gives exclusive access and showcases limited edition products from DTC brands.
There’s still no functionality for Pinners to shop in-app. If they click on a product they like, they’ll be taken to the ecommerce page. However it’s still a great way to get your products in front of people to a shopping mindset and drive traffic to your ecommerce site. According to Pinterest, 84% of weekly Pinners use Pinterest when actively considering products/services to purchase, but are undecided.
TikTok shopping first came via an integration through Shopify. This gave Shopify merchants the ability to feature products, create video ads and drive to their Shopify stores for checkout.
Then came their live video infomercial shopping. They piloted it with Walmart in the US in late 2020 and the retailer was back with a second event in 2021. Viewers could shop the products featured directly in the TikTok app by tapping on product ‘pins.’ This will allow them to add items to their cart that they can then check out either during or after the event
Now a new prototype sounds like shopping’s been integrated in a similar way to Instagram, with a separate shopping tab under a brand’s account that lists products with images and prices. TikTok is testing this shopping feature with select participants (like Hype and L’Oreal in the UK) but it remains unknown when the company will kick off the formal launch.
Snapchat AR try on
Snapchat’s shopping efforts have focused on augmented reality. Their tools (which they call lenses) allow users to try on clothing and accessories virtually. In doing so they hope to boost shoppers confidence in the size, fit and style of the product.
Farfetch is testing Snapchat’s apparel try-on tool. Users can say, “Show me a windbreaker jacket with a pattern,” and the front-facing camera will display a suggested item on the person’s body. They can then either share the image or buy it directly within Snapchat. As reported by Vogue Business.
They’re also testing a new ‘shop’ page where Snapchatters can browse and buy, and a tool called “Screenshop” which lets users scan a real-life outfit or upload an image to generate shopping recommendations from integrated catalogues.
Also in testing in the US, is YouTube’s shopping pilot. When creators, who are part of the test, include certain products in their videos, a shopping bag icon will appear in the bottom left of the screen. If clicked, YouTube will display a list of the featured items. From there. Users will be able to check out more information, watch related
Preparing a social shopfront
While it’s clear platforms are laying the groundwork for social commerce, if you’re outside the US, you may feel frustrated to not yet have access to full in-ap checkout. But there are still plenty of options you can take advantage of to drive valuable traffic to your ecommerce pages – like Shop pages, Shopify integrations and shoppable tags.
It’s also important to prepare for what’s inevitably ahead. The adoption of social commerce in the US and China is a sign of what’s to come. Strengthening your social presence and sourcing high-quality content that heroes your product will ensure you’re ahead once features do become available.
At Vamp, we’ve driven thousands of dollars of sales for a range of clients. Get in touch for our recommendations of the best features and platforms to drive sales for your business.