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It’s time to turn social commerce on its head.
While we traditionally think of social commerce as the ability to make purchases within a social media app, the next generation of social shopping will focus on integrating key elements of the social experience, including user interface and content, into retail websites and their mobile devices. apps.
As social commerce becomes more mainstream and consumers become accustomed to its interfaces and features, ecommerce sites that deliver a social experience will be poised to achieve the omnichannel, cohesive and synchronized customer experience they aspire to, while improving their business performance.
6 top features of social commerce
Social commerce refers to the ability to buy and sell goods directly through social media platforms, such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Pinterest. Instead of redirecting social media users to your website or mobile app, social commerce allows shoppers to browse articles and checkout without leaving the social media platform.
Amid the e-commerce boom fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the social commerce market has seen tremendous growth. It is widely adopted in the US, where sales increased by 35.8% in 2021 to $36.6 billion† By 2025, social commerce sales are expected to reach nearly $80 billion.
There are a number of key features of social commerce that make it so popular with today’s consumers and retailers alike:
1. Built for mobile
Social commerce is designed to provide an optimal mobile experience – unlike ecommerce websites, which have high drop-off rates on mobile (86%† It is designed to integrate seamlessly into the experience of scrolling through news feeds and “tapping” to see more details.
2. Extended Reach
More than half of the world’s population — 4.6 billion people – now use social media. While no supply chain in the world can handle so many shoppers, at least social commerce exposes you to millions of more relevant consumers.
3. Short time to purchase
The number of steps (or taps) between product discovery and the checkout is much smaller with social commerce than with regular e-commerce. In social commerce, a shopper discovers a product that grabs their attention while scrolling or viewing stories. This can be in the form of a sponsored post, or an organic one if they follow the brand. With one tap, the shopper can view the product on the brand’s social page and make a purchase in one go. The short, frictionless journey enabled by social trading significantly minimizes the likelihood of: drop off†
4. Not pushy
Sponsored posts and product ads on social media platforms go hand in hand with the shopper’s normal scrolling experience. Ads are served in the same format as organic posts by the accounts they follow. Users have the option to just keep scrolling if they are not interested in the product, or interact with it with a simple tap.
Because ads are intended to target relevant consumers, they support the sense of familiarity, personalization and control that social media users expect when using the apps. For example, someone who follows numerous thrift store and alternative fashion accounts will be targeted with ads from similar accounts, making them more likely to get involved.
Finally, buying through an app that a shopper uses regularly feels safer than shopping on an unfamiliar e-commerce website. First, the social media platform can process the payment itself, instead of the website. Second, brand accounts have built-in social proof via likes, comments, and tags, which instills a sense of trust.
How ‘inverse’ social commerce improves the performance of ecommerce sites and apps
By incorporating social commerce into e-commerce websites and apps, brands and retailers can build on the many benefits that social commerce has to offer.
Here are some of the key benefits brands and retailers can achieve.
- Support an omnichannel experience: Making your ecommerce sites and apps mirror the social commerce experience can help you achieve better coordination between channels. The “look and feel” of your site will better match your social commerce presence and convey the same sense of convenience and efficiency.
- Increase sales: A true social commerce experience involves a short and simple customer journey. By creating a product discovery and checkout journey that mimics the flow of social commerce, you can minimize the chance of drop-off and encourage shoppers to act on their inspiration.
- Boost Personalization: By tailoring “feeds” or product views on ecommerce websites and apps to individual shoppers, you expose shoppers to more products that suit their style and preferences.
- Get mobile first: By incorporating elements of the social commerce user interface into your website and app, the design creates a more mobile-friendly experience. This is necessary, since 72.9% of e-commerce sales are on mobile devices.
- Promote user-generated content: Getting shoppers to post content with your products is a great way to build engagement and brand loyalty. By assigning real estate on your website and app to UGC, you can increase customer engagement while building social proof. And by presenting social content on the spot, you can get more mileage out of paid influencer campaigns.
What the social commerce user interface could look like on your site
There are many elements of the social commerce user interface that you can use to improve your website and app, especially for mobile users. The key is to incorporate features in a way that aligns with your brand’s aesthetics and identity.
Here are six examples of social trading user interfaces you can use.
By now, consumers are used to creating accounts for apps and services with their Gmail, Facebook or Apple credentials. By allowing visitors to your website and app to log in with Instagram, TikTok, Facebook or Pinterest, you can get a wealth of information about their interests, tastes and preferences in one fell swoop. With these insights, combined with existing personalization parameters on the social media platform they signed up with, you can tailor product feeds to individual shoppers.
Scrolling through social feeds is fundamental to social commerce. You can recreate the endless scrolling experience on your website or app by replicating the design on your product listing pages and allowing users to tap images to view PDPs. Consumers, many of whom are regular social media scrollers, are sure to spend more time looking at your products this way.
Copy the customer journey
The short and sweet customer journey on social commerce is part of what makes it so appealing to shoppers. When you shorten the path to purchase by taking on a similar journey, you can increase the purchase rate and reduce the dropout rate. A social commerce inspired customer journey would start with scrolling through a feed of product images, tapping a product image of interest, viewing a PDP where the shopper can select their size or item color (if relevant), tap to checkout and pay directly via their digital wallet.
Providing the ability to add likes and comments to product images increases engagement, simplifies the leaving feedback experience, and reaps the benefits of social proof. However, it’s important to make the “appearance” of likes and comments similar to social media. Many ecommerce sites allow shoppers to “favorite” an item already or save it for later. To get the most out of social commerce on the site, the appearance of likes and comments should resemble social media apps.
Add a page for tagged images
By including a page of “tagged” posts, you can display your user-generated content in an aesthetic and familiar way. This page can be synced with Instagram or TikTok where users on every platform post images and videos featuring your products and tag your brand. Think of it as a hub for all your influencer and customer content.
One of the features that keeps social media users engaged with apps is stories. Instagram and Facebook shuffle users from one account to another, creating an endless stream of real-time content. By adding stories to your ecommerce site and app, you can keep users on the page for much longer while exposing them to entertaining and new content, with the most relevant products for every shopper. Stories are one of the best ways to get the most out of precious on-screen real estate as they allow you to easily upload new content and constantly refresh.
Get ahead of the inverted social commerce curve
As social commerce becomes more ubiquitous, consumers will expect the same simple, efficient type of experience across all channels – consciously or unconsciously.
By taking a proactive approach and getting ahead of the “inverse” social commerce curve, you can significantly improve the performance of your ecommerce site and mobile apps, and reap the benefits of social user interface and experiences.
Vered Levy-Ron is CEO of Syte†
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