Social commerce (also known as virtual shopping) is a new form of online shopping where brands sell their products directly through social media platforms. Unlike e-commerce, which is built on platforms like Shopify or Amazon, social commerce takes place entirely within a social app.
Instead of redirecting customers to a separate store, the social commerce experience allows customers to browse products and make a purchase wherever they are.
This creates a streamlined buying process for the customer and ultimately, more sales for the brand.
In 2020, Facebook launched its social commerce feature – Facebook Shops, allowing businesses to sync product listings from their online stores or create new ones directly in the app.
Shops are created within your Facebook business profile where the app will automatically feature products based on customer preferences and search history.
With over 1 billion active users, it’s safe to say that the future of Instagram Shopping is promising. Instagram’s Product Stickers feature (think hashtags – but for shopping specifically) allows you to feature products in your posts and stories so customers can purchase directly from your profile. You can even tag products when in Reels video – a great strategy to get the most eyes on your products and in turn, make more sales!
To set up a shop on Instagram, brands must link a Facebook business profile.
Pinterest is the go-to platform for visual inspiration. From fashion, home décor, weddings, fitness, and more, people love pinning products to their boards for future reference or future purchase.
We should mention that Pinterest does not have full social commerce capabilities just yet. While some Product pins allow customers to checkout right from their feed, other shoppable posts are directed to a brand’s website. Merchants must be part of the Verified Merchant program to be eligible for new shopping features.
TikTok may be the newest social media platform on the market, but its social commerce capabilities are right in line with the long-term players. More brands are using the short-form video app for its ability to go viral overnight – a seemingly more difficult task on its competitor platforms.
Not only does the app have its TikTok For Business feature, but they’ve also partnered with e-commerce giant BigCommerce – allowing brands to connect their product catalogues directly with their TikTok profile.
As people spend more time online, their shopping behaviours are also moving online. Using social commerce is an opportunity to get your brand and products in front of millions of potential new customers.
Social commerce offers a convenient, streamlined shopping experience for your customers. Unlike brick-and-mortar retail, consumers can order your products day or night from anywhere in the world.
Another huge advantage of social commerce is the ability to gather customer data that wouldn’t be available through in-store shopping. Platforms can give you valuable insights that double as market research - what products your customers are (or aren’t) looking at, and how long they took to decide to purchase.
No different than in-person shopping, you have to build trust before someone buys from you. The best way to do this online is to generate social proof from customers who can review and recommend your product. The more user-generated content you have such as comments, shares, and branded hashtags, the more likely you’ll show up in the algorithms and gain trust from future customers.
The rise of social commerce is changing the relationship between brands and consumers. By removing unnecessary steps in the buying process, businesses can create a seamless shopping experience for their customers where they’re already spending their time – on social media.