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IS SOCIAL COMMERCE THE FUTURE OF ECOMMERCE?

9 July 2015

FROM SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TO SOCIAL COMMERCE

Now that social media has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives, it has been seamlessly integrated into many other online activities. Undoubtedly, one of the areas social media has significantly impacted and continues to impact, is the way users shop online.

Until recently, social media platforms were mainly seen as a marketing and advertising tool that businesses used to gather an audience of fans and followers, or as a way to boost their brand awareness and engagement.

However, social media’s influence on ecommerce transactions has extended past the point of flashy social media advertising campaigns or peer reviews on a product. Today social media makes up a whole new segment of the online shopping experience. Users are easily re-direct to a retailer’s website or product page, or are able to make a purchase without ever leaving the social media platform.

This rising shopping trend is referred to as ‘social commerce’.

HOW DOES SOCIAL COMMERCE WORK?

As the ecommerce ecosphere matures, it is no surprise that there have been a growing number of announcements on ‘buy buttons’ being added to social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Google Search.

These call-to-action features let consumers purchase products they discover on social media, within the respective platform.

Facebook, for example, have recently introduced the beta version of their ‘Buy’ button, allowing consumers to easily purchase items that they see on their News Feed or on Pages within the Facebook platform. Buying is safe and secure, and consumers have the option to save their payment information with Facebook for future purchases. This makes the process of ordering easier, especially on mobile devices.

Similarly, Pinterest introduced their ‘Buyable Pins’ last month, enabling ‘Pinners’ to purchase products in Pinterest directly. Pinterest’s API taps into a retailer’s ecommerce inventory systems, in order to calculate stock availability and pricing information. To make it even easier, Pinterest will allow its users to filter search and category results by what is ‘buyable’, using real-time inventory and pricing.

Soon, Google will be also tapping into ecommerce, by introducing a ‘buy button’ to the ads that appear in search results. Reportedly, Google will only display ‘buy buttons’ on mobile devices and when users search for products. The button will give Google Search users the option to purchase without the need to visit a separate website. Instead, potential buyers will be taken to a special Google landing page, which includes sizes, colours, shipping options and more, where they can complete their transaction.

IS SOCIAL COMMERCE THE FUTURE OF ONLINE SHOPPING?

Although the growing social commerce can be seen as a controversial trend, as some brands and retailers think they might lose their online identity and relationship with customers, it undoubtedly provides a direct advertising channel and exciting new off-site selling opportunities.

It’s still unclear what the future of social commerce holds, and how it will impact the narrative retailers have with their customers in the long run. However, businesses need to keep pace with the evolution of shopping, and extend their activities beyond standard retail sites in order to provide consumers with a seamless shopping experience.

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