Social Commerce has long been positioned as the new mainstream approach to e-commerce. Before the wake of the coronavirus struck businesses worldwide, contextual commerce such as this, was proving to be a popular method of bringing the checkout to the customer - only when they needed it.
87% of consumers felt that social media informed their purchases, with 30% of consumers saying that they’d buy directly from social media channels.
With social media users increasing by 9% year-on-year, contextual commerce, such as environments like pay by SMS or email and these more user-interactive scenarios like social commerce, have quickly developed beyond embedding payment links in a social stream - to hosting an e-commerce store and checkout all within your social media timeline. Social Commerce has instead embraced the more naturally occurring ways in which customers like to unconsciously shop.
In the wake of the coronavirus, social commerce extends itself beyond a way to shop but becomes a way to support businesses that don't have the means to launch a platform by transforming the one they already have.
The ways in which this has happened, have happened slowly and at a varied pace:
Perhaps suited towards content creators and influencers, Instagram and parent company Facebook have launched loyalty-driven tipping systems that reward consumer and creator engagement through their live-streaming platforms.
Through Instagram live and IGTV, small donations can be given at price points ranging from $0.99 to $4.99 in return for real-time engagement on the channel from creators. Facebook’s similar system lets its consumers donate with its star system, whereas donations are represented with hearts on Instagram.
The move comes as a result of the 70% increase in the use of Instagram’s live feature between February and March 2020 and looks to benefit businesses that have moved to the platform due to lockdown measures.
Such businesses and creators include creatives and fitness instructors etc who are looking to retain and build their client base.
In a further step, Instagram now facilitates the use of smaller e-commerce tools within both its profile and stories environments. Users will be able to add gift cards, ordering and fundraising options to their content, as well as raise awareness for local businesses with interface friendly elements.
In the most radical move to contextualising e-commerce, Facebook has partnered with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce to utilise software across its site and Instagram to launch social shopfronts.
Whilst the extent of these features vary on your location, this move feels like the natural outcome of years of in-stream advertising, an inherent dependency on social media, and the convenience of finding what we want whilst we scroll.
As a merchant, the capabilities of a social shopfront can be limitless and managed within the social media site itself - despite the big names of Facebook’s partners.
Within ‘Facebook Shops’ a merchant’s product catalogue can be organised by collection and category much like any e-commerce site, with the social media site becoming a host for your store.
These shopfronts also facilitate the communication of customer service with integration into Messenger and WhatsApp services.
Insights for each product can also be easily managed within each shopfront.
Whilst the attempt to launch e-commerce into Facebook is not new, the intricacy of Facebook Shops seems almost seamless.
To quote Shopify executive Satish Kanwar in his interview with Recode - “That behaviour is just happening a lot more naturally than it was five years ago”.
With Facebook and Instagram an intertwined entity, 'Facebook Shops’ can be managed across both platforms.
Shoppers will be able to save and order products either through the app or directly through the merchant’s website - depending on whether the merchant has enabled the shopfront checkout on the social media site.
What are the benefits?
Not only does Facebook Shops hold the potential to leverage social commerce in a way that has yet to be done on a global scale, but it also has the potential to allow customers to make their decisions quicker.
In a society where our devices are listening to us, social media arguably takes into account additional demographics of consumer age, gender, location and even brands they like to shop with - based on their follow history - to inform their purchasing decisions.
In comparison to larger marketplaces, where these variables still inform consumer decisions, the shopper still has the option to filter their options by relevance and pace their options - with room for competitors and buyer’s remorse to creep in.
Social commerce has the ability to collect on visually intuitive decisions with the technology to execute a checkout quickly - to the benefit of the merchant.
Whilst social commerce brings the checkout to the consumer only when it is necessary, social media has also successfully navigated the entire journey the customer has taken; with more than 70% of shoppers looking to Instagram for product discovery.
Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping is currently available in over 70 countries as long as you hold a business account. These social shopfronts also work in conjunction with paid advertising on social platforms.
Beyond social tipping, badges and the easy transformation of social feeds into shopfronts, comes the slightly more complex concept of real-time shopping.
However, whilst the concept is not so much an unknown in future-forward Asian nations, the launch of Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping may see the rise of Livestream shopping in the West.
Using ‘touchable video’ real-time shopping is enabled through tagged elements within videos that allow customers to checkout before returning to their content.
Livestream shopping will allow creators to host a stream with branded short links or QR codes to promote products within their digital stream.
The addition of Facebook and Instagram checkouts could mean that these processes could be completed without ever leaving the social media app.
To learn more about the future of payments, get in touch with Total Processing today!