The latest trend of “social commerce” is really just an acknowledgement that social networks are being transitioned to become commerce websites.
In 2021, social networks are turning less and less social, as users are being continuously introduced to different types of information defined not on their genuine interest, but rather what algorithms think might be or should be of their interest. Who to follow, what to buy, what to read and occasionally, life updates from family and friends that don’t require any response. Scrolling through never ending “social” feeds certainly doesn't trigger an emotional reaction, and we can see how engagement rates are going down along with true conversations, which have been lately substituted to exchange of gifs and emojis under the posts. Drowning in the sea of sameness, social networks are becoming anti-conversational, turning into marketplaces, more sites on the internet where you are encouraged to buy things. The latest trend of “social commerce” is really just an acknowledgement that social networks are being transitioned to become commerce websites.
According to emarketer, in 2021 social commerce sales will rise by 35.8% to reach $36.62 billion in the US and $351.65 billion in China. Researchers also found more than half of US social media users aged 18-24 years old have made purchases via a social channel, compared to 51.5% of social network users in China and 49.5% in Russia. As social networks compete to facilitate even more frictionless shopping experiences for consumers, the numbers will only increase.
TikTok created shopping tabs for merchants, allowing them to create mini storefronts on their profiles and the ability to tag products in videos. TikTok partnered with major retailers such as Walmart, as well as payment software like Square, ensuring larger retailers are represented and purchasing from the site is seamless. TikTok also partnered with new e-commerce giant Shopify. “TikTok Shopping” allows Shopify merchants to add a shopping tab to their TikTok profiles and direct users to their online stores.
Facebook launched “Facebook shops” with the intention of assisting small businesses in selling directly inside the platform, and plan to capture roughly 2% of global e-commerce revenue by 2023. Many larger brands are utilizing this feature as a showroom and directing users from their FB shop to make purchases from their ecommerce website instead.
Instagram announced “Instagram Shop” which prompts users to discover/buy products on the explore page as well as a Shop tab added to the navigation bar on the platform.
Another place merchants can create a virtual product showcase is Twitter, which created shoppable profiles, a space on businesses’ Twitter profiles to showcase products and where consumers can make purchases directly.
On both Facebook and Instagram, streamers can tag products in their live videos for viewers to click and purchase.
Similarly, Youtube, once famous for it’s “unboxing videos” has also created software for creators to tag products that appear in their videos, first launched for on-demand but now offered for live streams as well.
Pinterest creators are being turned into salespeople and more merchants are joining the platform in response to “idea pins” which allow creators to tag products on the site.
Snapchat is a major player in the augmented reality trend, allowing users to virtually try on items using the lens filter, mimicking in-person shopping. Of course, users are also encouraged to send a snap of the try-on to their social networks, further spreading the reach of the product.
Instagram, with Spark AR integration, also uses augmented reality technology. By clicking on a product featured in a post or from a brand’s Instagram story, the Instagram stories camera with an AR effect applied, will open, allowing users to virtually “try-on” the product. With the click of an additional button, users can purchase the product directly. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook also uses similar technology.
As AR technology continues to become more advanced, there are additional opportunities for retailers such as virtual fitting rooms for customers to try on entire outfits. AR will also expand to other sectors beyond clothing/beauty, for example, home furnishings companies can apply the technology so customers can envision how new furniture would fit into their current home.
The influence of “influencers” continues to be extremely important for many brands who rely on the large potential customer base of followers who already like and trust the influencer’s opinion. Additionally, influencers are usually the trailblazers of major social commerce trends. For example, using augmented reality technology, influencers wearing digitally rendered clothing to promote their brand partnerships, a more cost-effective and sustainable option for retailers.Influencer marketing is expected to grow to $13.8 billion by 2021 but new research suggests influencer’s ability to inspire consumer trust may be waning. Recent research from Marketing Week found nearly ⅔ of 18-44 year olds don’t trust what influencers promote on their social media and more than half of UK consumers prefer following “normal” social media users.
Influencer marketing is expected to grow to $13.8 billion by 2021 but new research suggests influencer’s ability to inspire consumer trust may be waning. Recent research from Marketing Week found nearly ⅔ of 18-44 year olds don’t trust what influencers promote on their social media and more than half of UK consumers prefer following “normal” social media users.
In 2020, 2 out of 3 Chinese consumers said they had bought products via livestream. On social channels, live streams are televised shopping experiences reimagined for social media, what eyezon likes to call “new TV Shopping 2.0.” Most retailers capitalize on this trend using influencers they pay to represent their brand streaming through the one-to-many format, unaware of additional opportunities. Now a leading social commerce trend, it has even spread to marketplaces. Amazon, an industry disrupter, has introduced Amazon Livestream, an even more frictionless shopping experience as buyer’s payment information is already stored.
Live streaming offers many benefits for retailers including accelerating conversion, quickly transitioning the customer journey from awareness to purchase, all during the same video. It can also help brands differentiate themselves, strengthen positioning among current customers and also attract new clientele.
However, teleshopping with influencers or leaving product reviews is not true socializing. The most organic variation of social interaction over the internet is live format, one-on-one live streaming. The key value in live interaction is the moment of uncertainty when anything can happen and the interaction, like in our real life, is unpredictable. Unpredictability is a provocative feeling that makes us human and is powerful enough to drive action. And once on-demand live streaming becomes genuinely social.
eyezon is a digital transformation sandbox based on personal on-demand live streaming concept. There is an unlimited amount of usage scenarios and opportunities for connecting shop assistants with customers during any stage of the customer journey. We’ve found customers don’t want to be told what to buy, like in the “new TV Shopping 2.0.” Instead, they want to be treated as individuals and embark on a unique buying experience, form a connection with a sales associate and receive a recommendation personalized to them. And it really works. A live on-demand streaming leads to an average sales conversion of 24% in a 2-3 minute shopping session. Compared to the average online conversion of 1.2-1.3% it’s obvious there is a better way to interact with ecommerce customers. How? By putting customer experience first and prioritizing social over commerce.