As a retailer, you've got to stay on top of the ever-evolving world of eCommerce — or risk getting left behind.
Enter Social Commerce: the new kid on the block, flipping social media and online shopping habits upside down.
It's a subset of eCommerce that promotes convenience, exploration and speed — a trifecta that today's savvy consumers crave.
Without a doubt, social commerce is set to be the next game-changer in eCommerce. According to recent forecasts, it's projected that social sales will reach nearly $3 billion in 2023.
In this blog post, we'll look at some of the more popular social commerce trends that are transforming the eCommerce world. From social selling to social media shopping, here's what you need to know if you want to stay ahead of the pack.
6 Key Social Commerce Trends
1. Increased Use of Social Media Platforms as Shopping Destinations
Shopping on social media is quickly becoming the norm for many. Consumers of all ages are using social networks to inform their buying decisions — and make purchases.
Whether using social media to find that perfect dress for a wedding or researching reviews on the best laptop for school, social media is becoming the go-to platform for purchasing decisions.
In fact, one in three use social media to discover new products, while over half have bought something through social media.
And those numbers are only growing, so it's essential for retailers to be present on social media if they want to stay competitive.
2. Growth of Shoppable Posts & Social Media Marketplaces
In today's social media-obsessed world, it makes perfect sense that the trend of social selling — using social media platforms to sell products online — is on the rise.
As social media becomes increasingly integrated into our consumer habits, businesses have been able to capitalise on shoppable posts and social media marketplaces to make a serious dent in online sales.
By including shopping tags in videos and images, brands make it convenient and simple for customers to buy the products they see.
In fact, research shows that 44% of users use shopping tags to purchase products weekly.
For example, consider the following image from Schuh’s Instagram page.
The Instagram post includes a shopping tag for Dr. Martens, and consumers are just a click away from starting the buying process.
What used to be a fairly fragmented system of social platforms is now becoming increasingly interconnected for a far more streamlined approach to social buying.
It's easy to see why this type of social selling has become so popular — it not only simplifies the shopping experience but also puts buyers directly in touch with brands they trust.
3. Expansion of Augmented Reality & Virtual Try-On Experiences
Social media shopping is taking on a whole new meaning as augmented reality and virtual try-on experiences become more advanced and prevalent.
Shopping from the comfort of your couch has never been easier or more fun. Companies are now creating 3D models that allow consumers to "try on" clothes or select a colour for products from anywhere, even going so far as to integrate these features into many popular social platforms.
As an example, the iconic footwear and apparel giant Nike has acquired the budding virtual sneaker company RTFKT. This acquisition allows the company to offer a more immersive experience for its customers, bringing virtual sneaker designs to life.
Now shoppers can get a true sense of what an item will look like before actually purchasing it, saving time, money, and worry in the process.
It's a win-win, retailers benefit from the reduced returns of up to 40%, and customers gain an even more engaging shopping experience.
4. The Emergence of Social Commerce Chatbots & Voice Shopping
Nowadays, shopping is as easy as talking out loud to find what you need – and with today’s automated systems, the process couldn't be any smoother. Who could have imagined a world where groceries, clothes and even furniture could be bought all with just one voice command?
Retailers such as Amazon have been at the forefront of voice shopping advancements with their Alexa virtual assistant. Through Alexa, customers can quickly re-stock their favourite items, pay for them and have them delivered to their doorsteps in a matter of days.
Where social media is making acquisition easier, personalisation platforms are improving customer experience. But AI assistants and chatbots aren't reserved for the big brands only. Businesses of all sizes are leveraging AI-driven shopping to bolster their Average Order Value (AOV) and optimise conversion rates.
Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, retailers can now offer personalised experiences for their customers that go beyond traditional sales tactics.
To illustrate, Shopbox's AI Assistant is a powerful tool that can exponentially increase your e-Commerce site’s conversion rate by up to three times and boost Average Order Value (AOV) by 40% or more.
The use of these AI shopping assistants and social bots is increasing rapidly, with more and more shoppers relying on them for guidance when shopping.
5. Increased Emphasis on User-Generated Content (UGC) & Micro-Influencers
Social media influencers have become a powerful force in the world of eCommerce. Companies are now turning to user-generated content and influencers to help promote their products and services.
UGC has been proven more effective than traditional advertising, as it lends authenticity and trustworthiness that resonates with today's shoppers.
At the same time, micro-influencers — influencers with more modest followings — have proven cost-effective and more likely to engage their audience than those with large numbers of followers.
Take, for example, Ana Noorie, a TikTok and Instagram fashion influencer who rose to prominence following her viral ‘haul’ videos. These short clips feature Ana trying on various online clothing purchases and giving fashion advice while recommending the most popular items.
As a result, more and more brands are teaming up with micro-influencers like Ana as a way of boosting their social media presence and driving sales.
6. Social Media Payment Options
Social media platforms are becoming increasingly integrated with different payment methods, making it easier than ever to shop directly from social media.
They’ve developed merchant-friendly payment options that allow customers to purchase items without even leaving the platform. And it also eliminates the extra clicks and hassle associated with traditional checkout processes, which can dramatically reduce cart abandonment rates.
The latest social commerce trends reveal that not only is mobile commerce transforming the way people purchase products, but over 50% Gen Z shoppers are also adopting novel digital payment technologies such as mobile wallets, contactless solutions, and peer-to-peer payment apps.
However, 79% of UK shoppers are still cautious about saving card details on social media platforms. With that in mind, retailers should focus on building trust with their customers and emphasising the positive experiences existing customers had with their brand.
Impact of Social Commerce on Retailers
With social commerce on the rise, retailers are now able to reach a larger customer base and provide a more personalised shopping experience.
From increasing competition to the growing importance of mobile commerce and omnichannel strategies, let’s take a look at how social commerce is transforming the retail industry.
New Ways of Discovering & Purchasing
Have you ever found yourself endlessly scrolling social media feeds, only to be enticed by something and impulsively scroll through checkout pages?
Welcome to social commerce — the new way of discovering and purchasing items without ever leaving the app. About 50% of Gen Z and millennial buyers use social media to buy product from start to finish in the US. 14% of UK social shoppers have bought a product directly from social media in the past three months and the numbers are expected to be much higher in 2023 This kind of frictionless shopping experience has changed consumer buying habits, leading retailers to prioritise their presence on these platforms.
Growing Importance of a Strong Social Media Presence
It’s no longer enough to simply maintain a website or an online store — retailers must also engage with their customers through social media channels.
Social media shopping has been giving retail stores a run for their money, and with companies investing more resources into creating content, it proves no surprise. Last quarter saw an impressive spike of 12% in social spending compared to the same period last year.
And this could be attributed to leveraging influencers and social figures as part of their marketing strategies. A successful social media strategy boosts awareness while also building relationships with customers—both of which are essential for success in today’s marketplace.
Social media is now more influential than ever in affecting consumer decisions and so pumping up numbers on those platforms seems like a smart business move.
Ten years ago, the concept of online shopping was foreign to us. However, with an estimated 26 million eCommerce sites now flourishing around the world, it's safe to say that we have officially entered a new age of digital commerce.
Plus, social media shopping has drastically changed the game when it comes to online retail competition. Consumers have the ultimate buying power with access to hundreds of different retailers, allowing them to compare prices, reviews, and delivery options quickly and easily.
To keep up with their rivals, businesses must ensure their brand stands out from the crowd—through stellar customer service, cleverly crafted digital messaging, and unique brand identity.
Increased competition may mean more pressure for eCommerce retailers, but it also offers an exciting opportunity to truly stand out from the digital crowd and connect with your customers on a deeper level.
The Rise of Mobile Commerce
Gone are the days of scouring shopfronts and browsing pages on a desktop as more and more people now rely on their mobile phones to make quick decisions.
It's as easy as scrolling through your feeds, clicking on something that catches your eye, and you're ready to shop. But if retailers don't cater to their customers' mobile preferences, they might miss out on potential sales. You can't turn back time once a user experiences a website or landing page that isn't optimised for mobile.
In fact, mobile commerce is expected to represent roughly 43.4% of total e-commerce sales in 2023. So retailers need to get with the times and make sure their online presence is optimised for all screen sizes — and especially for mobile.
Weaving an Omnichannel Strategy
Getting your social commerce game on point isn't just about posting the perfect Instagram stories — it's about having an omnichannel strategy that powers your entire buying journey.
Weaving together a seamless shopping experience from start to finish involves creating consistent experiences across all channels, so customers feel comfortable buying from wherever they may be.
According to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, an impressive 73% of customers enjoy having multiple shopping options available. On the other hand, 7% prefer using online purchasing portals exclusively, and 20% only shop in-store.
Pulling this off and bridging the gap between in-store and online shopping is the key to success — it encourages shoppers to buy from various outlets and keeps the customer experience consistent across all touchpoints.
It's no small feat, but it's essential for giving customers the experience they deserve. And ultimately, making social commerce work in your favour.
Unlock the Power of Social Commerce
From Instagram shopping to the Facebook marketplace and everything in between, social commerce is booming. There’s no better time than now to get on board with social selling and social media shopping trends.
Meet your potential customers where they are, whether that's TikTok or Twitter, and let their interactions with your brand be the driving force behind their purchasing decisions.
With the world of eCommerce rapidly evolving, it’s critical for retailers to stay ahead of the trends in social commerce.
To help you navigate this ever-changing landscape, we’ve created a comprehensive Retail Playbook.
Our eBook is your roadmap to success. It’ll show you how to deliver a truly personalised shopping experience, leverage the power of social media to boost sales, and so much more.
Don’t get left behind — download our Retail Playbook and be one step ahead of the competition.