Purchasing through social channels is a relatively new addition to the retail industry and social commerce is currently the buzzword on every brand’s lips. Some argue that social commerce is nothing new and is in fact advertising charading as a new purchasing channel. The whole process, in fact, simply pushes a user through to the target retailer using cleverly tailored messaging and content.

Customers all over the world are spending an increasing amount of time on social media, therefore, integrating your selling methods with social makes sense. Communicating with customers in a way which they feel comfortable with and in the place where they spend most of their time should be an obvious choice to retailers and could result in real success.

The capability to find, search, choose and shop for items across a range of sectors, also known as ‘native shopping’, is the ideal solution for creating seamless social commerce, however, this is not commonplace across all popular apps at the moment. However, developments are currently underway including the likes of Instagram’s expansion into tagging items in photographs which allows an enhanced shopping capability for brands trying to offer their product to consumers, how and when they want it.

Millennial focus

The lines between social media and shopping are becoming increasingly blurred, primarily for the younger consumer, with a large portion of those within this demographic using social media sites to influence their shopping decisions.

Instagram is recognised as being highly popular with the younger generation (Genz Z and Millennials), holding a significant share of the market. Alongside this, Millennials who currently shop online, make up about 50% of the total online spend, which means that Instagram has carefully considered their move into developing their rumoured shopping app alongside a very deep understanding of their user-base.

The choice to diversify into a standalone app designed for shopping seemed like an organic move for the already popular picture sharing app. The app is slated to allow users to browse and purchase collections from a variety of retailers without ever leaving the app. Although the app still has yet to have details confirmed officially by Instagram, the move into building more user-friendly functions for merchandisers could open up new opportunities for expansion into new markets, including selling capabilities targeted more intricately to target Millennials.

Social leadership

There are currently already 90 million people a month tapping on Instagram posts to reveal shopping tags, and this looks to only increase as we move into the future. Social commerce needs to form part of a balanced ecommerce strategy and retailers and brands will need to do their best to ensure that they’re ready to compete.

Implementing a strategy which integrates social commerce into your repertoire of selling channels requires your business touch points to be reconsidered. Across the whole range, including marketing, product and customer care, each of these elements needs to be integrated into the social commerce approach and work together to provide an optimum user journey. A great customer experience is absolutely crucial when implementing social commerce, without this customers can end up disappointed or unhappy with the service they receive, may turn to competitors and voice their disdain on social media channels.

Social media is all about standing out, so without the right approach to ensure that your product stands out and is positioned as aspirational, it will often fade into the noise. The transaction is the core end goal here and without engagement, that transaction simply won’t arrive. Some brands use different approaches, including influencers who will promote their product as part of their lifestyle and encourage their followers to buy. This is one of the key social selling attributes, with 40% of those who follow influencers on their social media accounts stating that they would be more likely to buy a product pushed by these people. Instagram is one of the key hubs for influencers with 99.3% of the influencer base existing on this platform. After this, brands must work closely to determine the right person to effectively represent and fit their brand, without this, they will not see accelerated brand awareness or build loyalty.

Finally, although it may not be true social commerce, shoppable content is being utilised by a number of brands and retailers to increase their brand awareness and drive more impulse purchasing. Where consumers can see how to style a piece of clothing and it appears at their fingertips in their feed, shoppable ads can drive transactions and are allowing brands to test and learn more about how their customers like to shop.