Posted: Friday 26th February 2021 in Services.

Social media has brought about profound shifts in our online shopping behaviour and consequently presented massive changes for retail. It is important that brands understand this shift so that they can stay relevant, so let’s explore the emerging trend of social shopping and how you can make it work for your business. 

So, what is social shopping? 

Social shopping is essentially using social media channels to sell your products and services. The previous model used social to promote products, then sent customers to your e-commerce platform to convert and make the purchase. But social shopping integrates product catalogues and the payment process into the channels to make the experience more seamless. 

 One example is the shoppable tags in Instagram and Facebook. These tags let potential customers click on a post to learn more about the product, and they can discover more detail including other photos, sizes, stock availability and price, all without leaving Instagram. Clicking again then takes them through to your website where they are then more informed and are more likely to make a final purchase. 

What is the size of the market? 

Huge. Globally, the size of the social shopping market is significant, with a recent US-based study by Absolunet stating: 

  • 87% of e-commerce shoppers feel social media influences their purchasing decisions 
  • 30% of consumers say they would make purchases directly through social media platforms 

Social shopping, linked with live streams and online events, is already massively popular in China accounting for $242.41 billion annually which is 11.6% of e-commerce sales. Annual events such as Singles’ Day held on 11 November drove massive sales through platforms including Alibaba owned Taobao Live, and live streams featured celebrities including Taylor Swift. 

Which social media platforms offer social shopping? 

Facebook and Instagram still occupy the largest market share, with a share of 63.8% and 49% respectively (Statista). The launch of Instagram Shops in 2020 led to a surge of businesses integrating their product catalogues within Instagram and Facebook, and offered new opportunities to showcase collections. 
TikTok is also emerging as a powerful platform, as it is especially influential with younger audiences, and rapidly gaining traction. 

What are the benefits of social shopping? 

  • Increased sales through a streamlined process 

By simplifying the purchase process and allowing customers the opportunity to purchase products quickly and easily from Instagram or TikTok, this can really drive conversions and boost sales. 

Popular e-commerce platform Shopify recently announced Shop Pay, a new, seamless payment gateway for Facebook and Instagram that makes buying items from social media channels much easier.  

Facebook offer Checkout in the US, with plans to introduce it globally in the works. This means customers can purchase items without leaving the Instagram app. 

  • Collect useful audience data 

Running social media accounts for your brand helps you gather useful customer insights. Using the stories feature to promote new lines, along with polling and videos can provide direct from consumer data to help inform your strategy. 

  • Improved communication with customers 

Recent Facebook research suggests that  77% of shoppers feel more connected to a brand they can have a two-way dialogue with. Use social media to open conversations with potential customers and encourage people to share their positive experiences. 

  • Risk mitigation 

Social shopping provides the opportunity to experiment with limited edition products, introduce and test new approaches without the risks of a full-scale campaign.  

  • Competitive parity 

As brands adapt to the post Covid-19 retail space and with social platforms playing an ever-important role, it is vital for brands to enter the social shopping space to stay relevant, attract new customers and retain existing ones in an increasingly competitive environment. 

How to prepare for social shopping 

There are several practical steps you can take as a brand to get ready, so let’s take a look: 

  • Set up an Instagram shop 
  • Sync your inventory with Facebook and Instagram. This will allow you to easily leverage current functionality including shoppable tags in Instagram and provide access to Facebook Commerce Manager tools. 
  • Give your product feeds a spring clean. Check everything is working correctly, remove old products and make sure your product photography is clean, clear and looks amazing. 
  • Refresh your product collections. Managing collections of products is vital, as potential customers don’t want to see out of date creative or last season’s products. Christmas trees in February is not a good look. 
  • Make it exclusive. Luxury brands and fashion perform very well on live events. Why not offer exclusive products or limited editions only available during these times. 
  • Enable product discovery 
  • Leverage Paid. Create custom audiences from your shop behaviours to bring a consistent experience through to your campaigns and get your products and offers in front of a wider audience. 

Following the above steps will help prospective customers discover products that appeal to them, which they may not have found otherwise. 

Social shopping is likely to have a big impact on online retail in 2021, so it is important you are part of this space. Summit can help you with all areas from product feed management through to paid media campaign activation so why not get in touch today at [email protected] and see how we can help you make the most of social shopping.