Social-commerce or social shopping is taking off but to be successful it should be fully integrated into the offer of online commerce.
Until recently, social platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter were considered ideal channels for building brand awareness. Now they are becoming a powerful tool to get in touch with that difficult-to-access segment of the population made up of young buyers and then try to turn engagement into real purchases.
Will the growing phenomenon of “social shopping” be the future of e-commerce? “Yes,” says Kieron Weedon, director of strategy at BWP Group, a British retail marketing agency. “ The very nature of social media – the ability to share, recommend and show products to friends and other people – makes it easier for consumers to compare products within the purchasing process . Facilitating the purchase of products directly from a social platform therefore represents a natural evolution. ”
But if they are to reap the rewards of the huge reputational and financial benefits of social shopping, retailers must find a way to change consumers’ minds about the role of social media, which many see as useful only for a tweet or snap.
“Customers will want an even better experience that is easily accessible, and Facebook and Twitter have the platforms to do it all,” said Naji El-Arifi, head of innovation at Salmon, a global e-commerce consulting agency. ” The groundwork for social shopping success is already there – Facebook is already testing with Facebook Marketplace – now it’s up to the most cutting-edge retailers to take notice, offer customer service that matches, and implement a strategy that integrates social media. within the overall online offer. ”
On the one hand, social shopping offers enormous potential to the retail industry, on the other hand there is still no evidence that it is gaining popularity. Rachel Barton, general manager of advanced customer strategy at Accenture Strategy, says that while social media is ready, most companies are barely leveraging an omnichannel model that integrates social media in any meaningful way .
“Switching from ‘like’ to ‘buy it’ is not an easy task,” he declares. “It’s not about offering consumers the same shopping experience they experience through traditional e-commerce. To be successful, you need to redefine the shopping experience and make it simple and tailor-made for the consumer. ”
Those who have already made progress in social shopping are WeChat , the Chinese messaging app that has been described as WhatsApp, Amazon, Deliveroo, Uber and others all merged into one app. It is also becoming a central hub for online merchants. Comparisons are made to Facebook, particularly given its “market” features and improved messaging services, but most ecommerce pundits agree that no Western app actually comes close to the ubiquitous presence of WeChat.
Becky Carré, PPC (pay-per-click) manager at the e-commerce agency Impression said: “The WeChat model, made up of several apps within the same app, could represent a challenge for the giants of Western social media, particularly now that Facebook users are moving away from the platform and engagement is waning.
However, given the blocking of some social networks in China, including Facebook, WeChat’s popularity could be due to a simple lack of competition . ”
Even an adoption of the WeChat business model by Western platforms collides with high barriers according to Jon Carney, Chief Digital Officer of McCann Worldgroup – Europe, Middle East and Africa: “The West lacks a type of infrastructure that China has – a couple of dominant payment portals, optimized for the “mobile” and adopted by all.
Our smartphone payments are currently much more fragmented and without a default integrated system, social networks will struggle to grow the retail business. In spite of everything, this is not an insurmountable problem and as soon as there is a two-way race I foresee a rapid development of mobile social commerce ”.
“BUY” IN PLACE OF “I LIKE”
There is no doubt that social shopping will play a pivotal role as consumers are shifting their shopping preferences from computers, to tablets, to smartphones . The fact that they include “buy” buttons embedded in social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest is a natural extension of the fact that people want a smooth, safe and smoothly translated “Uber experience” into shopping. However, as Dennis Jones, CEO of Judopay points out, not all platforms will be successful, given that the probability of pressing “buy” is linked to the mentality of the users who are currently using the platforms.
“Twitter recently dropped the ‘buy’ button and we don’t expect Facebook to be very successful with its,” he said. While some purchases are very impulsive, others require more research and must be accompanied by a total brand experience, such as reading reviews for a dress or checking the return policy. It takes time to make this shopping experience as simple as the one offered by the best companies, but sooner or later it will happen. ”
What’s happening, Jones says, isn’t a real shift towards social shopping, rather the natural evolution from m-commerce (mobile commerce) to app-commerce .
“Our favorite sites have long been“ app-ized ”and we are interacting with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and even Netflix from our smartphones. Consumers now expect a valuable app-style experience. The West is unlikely to take an all-in-one approach like WeChat’s, so it’s imperative that brands deliver a smooth shopping experience across all channels that matter to their customers. ”
This post is by Alison Coleman and was originally published on Raconteur with the title “ Why social shopping is yet to take off “. Translation by Virginia Specchia and Luisa Balbi.