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How social commerce is transforming online shopping experiences

Katy White
Katy White
Principal Digital Consultant, Design & Technology
5 min read
27 May 2021

Social media is quickly becoming a platform to transact as well as gain inspiration, making it the latest playground for brands to sell. Global consumers now spend 4.2 hours per day using apps on their smartphones, a 30% increase since 2019, with around half of that time being spent on social media. What’s more, 54% of social media browsers do so to research products and are 71% more likely to purchase when referred by social media. Given this evidence, it’s no shock that brands are looking to create seamless shopping experiences on social media, where consumers are spending more of their time, rather than luring them to an online store.

As shopping continues to weigh heavily towards digital, the role of social media should not be underestimated. Technical innovations and new functionalities are expanding the role it has within the wider e-commerce arsenal. Here are some of the key reasons why brands should embrace a social commerce strategy and why we believe it will become a primary sales channel in the very near future.  

Direct checkout

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok have all implemented different ways to make social content shoppable, serving as a central interface for e-commerce. The core principle of social commerce is that it allows customers to quickly and easily purchase products directly within their chosen social platform, without being redirected to an online store or any other site. 

What may have previously taken weeks, or even months, from first seeing an advertisement, researching the product and visiting a store to view it before purchasing can now happen in minutes. Now, when consumers see a product, they simply click the link and buy it, with almost 30% of social media users making purchases on the same day of using the platform. This simplification of the path to purchase has significantly shortened the customer journey, providing the opportunity to drastically reduce abandonment and take advantage of growing rates of impulse purchasing.

Maximising brand experiences

Traditional online stores are often conversion driven, and make it difficult to bring products and brands to life. But the creative and engagement focus of social media can help to significantly close this gap and deliver stronger brand experiences, such as through the implementation of live video shopping or augmented reality (AR), while driving sales.

While brands’ general use of social media can help to excite users about a product, implementing social commerce can help them to capitalise on it by facilitating quick purchasing. For example, AR filters can help customers experience products by ‘trying on’ a new lipstick shade or positioning a piece of furniture in the home. But when shoppable functionality is also enabled, the brand can secure a sale in addition to driving engagement through the brand experience. 

Until now, brands’ attempts to blur the lines between physical and digital experiences have largely been focused on incorporating digital solutions within physical stores, but social shopping provides an opportunity to do the reverse. For many, in-person shopping is a social experience but traditional online shopping is distinctly unsocial. But 81% of consumers’ purchasing choices are swayed by their friends’ social posts and recommendations, and 78% are influenced by brands’ posts, making social e-commerce the perfect solution to fill that void. 

Brands that incorporate exciting brand experiences and shoppable social content within their e-commerce strategy have the opportunity to digitally replicate the inspiration, interactivity and immediacy of in-person shopping. 

Expanding audiences

Social media usage is largely ingrained in millennial and Gen Z lifestyles, but over the last year, it has grown to play an increasing role in the lives of older generations too, with many from those groups adopting digital technology to stay in touch during the pandemic. Driven by this need to digitally connect during lockdown, social media users surged by 521 million in the year to April 2021, making it a prime area for brands to broaden their audiences.

Shoppable social media also opens up valuable new data streams about target audiences which can, in turn, help brands to further expand their customer base and drive sales. By gaining data and insights on the product content that garners the most interaction and engagement, brands can create even stronger social commerce strategies. For example, if a product is proving popular with people in a specific geographic region, they can increase marketing in that area, leveraging the evidence that people will be more inclined to buy based on their friends’ social posts, to increase sales and new customers. 

Social commerce provides brands with an opportunity to sell at a point in the journey where customers are most active and inspired; turning social media engagement into sales. With minimal investment, companies can quickly and directly reach desired demographics and generate revenue while maintaining brand equity. If your business is considering how to integrate shoppable social content into your e-commerce strategy, DEPT® can help. Get in touch with our experts today. 

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Principal Digital Consultant, Design & Technology

Katy White