Social media is a source of information about products and services, customer reviews and buying directly.
Apart from being used for connecting with people and staying updated on their whereabouts, social media is now widely used by public to stay updated with the latest trends of fitness, food, clothing, accessories, holiday destinations and a number of other things too. But the marketers looking at this social commerce game from away the field often wonder if the customers are really willing to buy through social media or how far does social e-commerce really benefit the business. Some brands don't consider social media as a profitable sales channel. In fact, Andy Atkinson, the marketing director of Morrisons refers using social commerce platforms for selling as a mistake.
According to one of the researches, while browsing online for buying a product, social media is given 31% of preference whereas retailer websites are given 74% of preference. Facebook is the most popular network preferred for online browsing while shopping (26%), followed by Instagram (8%) and then Pinterest (6%).
The developers of social network like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest etc. are constantly working towards enhancing online shopping experience for customers. Facebook, for an instance, now allows the visitors to shop directly from the social platform rather than being directed to the retailer's website which is really annoying on the users' end.
Facebook is popular for 30% of 25 to 34 age group, 23 % of 35 to 44 age group. But only 10% of 54 to 65 age groups prefer purchasing items directly from Facebook. So, brands must keep focusing on millennials for social commerce and figure out a way to attract this reluctant demographic.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, also opened up the site to all advertisers by introducing the direct response ad format which facilitates users to view the ads and respond directly to them through buttons like 'learn more', 'install now', 'shop now' etc.
However, there are many brands who haven't yet enabled this kind of shopping experience through social commerce platforms. Some brands use social media just to spread a word about their newly launched products and offers, and inspire people to buy.
According to a research by loyalty analytics company Aimia, around 56% of users who follow brands' pages on social media do so in order to know about trending products. In another research that targeted 2017 people of 18+ age group, it was found out that nearly 41% follow the brands to view new launch range whereas 35% do so to get ideas about what to buy when they next go shopping. These figures are the highest for the age group of 18 to 24- 47% and 40% respectively. There's another group of users too who intend to get inspiration for gift ideas by following brands on social media.
People access their social media accounts as a daily routine. So, the chances of coming across products that inspire them to buy are high because- on an average, every person browses social media more than once every day and when they see multiple options of some good products repeatedly on their feed, they are more likely to shoot the 'buy now' button.
President of international coalitions at Aimia- Jan-Pieter Lips recognizes the potential of social network e-commerce in increasing business sales. He also points out that brands need to come up with strategies to deal with the large group of customers who defer to major e-commerce websites such as Amazon.
In order to target the right audience with right products and offers, you need to know what are the items of interest for different age groups-groups. A study reveals the statistics for the kind of buying preferences the two age demographics have.
Around 56% of users who follow brands' pages on social media do so in order to know about trending products.
So, brands must observe these trends based on age groups, shopping interests, shopping preferences, intent of connecting with social e-commerce etc. very well when considering the social shopping route to sales. This way, they can come up with the right strategies to form part of their wider e-commerce functions.
Jan-Pieter Lips mentions how the social sales channel shortens the path of purchasing for customers. Even though social networks may act like catalogues, as people mostly buy elsewhere, they give a good opportunity of reaching out a huge mass of customers simultaneously on an individual level. So, if this opportunity is grabbed and backed with good strategies, today's browsers can definitely be converted to tomorrow's buyers. He warns that if brands do not prioritize social channels, there is the risk that they will "miss out on a vital opportunity to engage with captive audience of customers" He also points out that it is the younger group of users who is driving the social shopping trend. He says -
"Brands need to keep up with this demand if they are going to make the most of the future generations of shoppers."
So, the potential of social media emerging as a sales channel is definitely seen by those who are already experiencing the benefits of enhancing their business growth. Also, you now have a fair idea of how customers use social networks as a part of their shopping experience and vice versa.
If you are looking for specific clues about building a social commerce platform, do check out our definitive guide. Also read how social commerce is going to be inevitable in 2018. Vinfotech has been building trustworthy social commerce experiences for almost five years now. If you wish to share your challenges in social commerce integration or wish to hire partners for social commerce platform design and development, give us a call.
Vinfotech creates world's best social networks for employees, brands, interest groups and sports fans. We promise initial set of real engaged users to put turbo in your social network growth. Our award winning software vSocial™ allows us to build stellar customized communities faster and better. Our customers include Aston Martin, Burberry, Arabian Gulf League and Snapdeal.
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