What Is Social Commerce and How Are Brands Embracing This?

Over the past decade, digital transformation has offered businesses new venues to engage with potential consumers. The rise of digital tools and social networking applications has shaken up the e-commerce sector. Steering in new age shopping experiences and ways of engaging consumers.

GPS software, IoT services, Data Analytics, and AI bots are enabling businesses to make hyper-personalized targeted ads. These ads utilize the widespread global user base of social media applications. Ushering in the era of social commerce.

What is social commerce?

Social commerce or s-commerce is a rapidly growing and evolving branch of e-commerce that utilizes social media networks to facilitate the direct sale of products and services. An entire shopping experience from a user discovering a product, searching and checkout takes place on the social media application. It facilitates users to discover products, read and write reviews, rate the product, share, recommend to friends, transact, and be part of the brand’s loyal subscriber base.

Social media applications offering built-in social commerce experiences are Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok. These social platforms facilitate shopping with a ‘Shop now’ button or ‘Buy’ button that helps consumers add the product to their cart and complete the purchase. While scrolling the content on social platforms, these buttons offer an easy shopping experience. Establishing shopping opportunities integrated into social media. It provides a significant opportunity for businesses to leverage online communities to drive conversion rates and boost revenue. They can achieve this by:

a.Influencer marketing
b.User-generated content
c.Content subscription options

Social commerce evolution

What was: Social commerce has evolved over the years. It started with a simple ‘Shop Now’ button on social media applications. The button would redirect the user to the brand’s website, taking them away from the social media application. It was a disconnected experience that lacked seamless shopping for its users.

What is: Today s-commerce is more commercial and modern. The transformation has been profound with the application integration of an entire ecosystem for users to shop on their social media platforms. Adding critical features like in-app checkouts, AI-based customer support, shoppable posts, shopping lives, and more. Allowing businesses to build their personalized storefront on the application for a seamless shopping journey. Further enhanced by influencers, subscription models, etc. The s-commerce experience today is streamlined, integrated, and frictionless.

What next: S-commerce businesses are experiencing a mega boom with emerging technology-powered digital tool integration. The future experiences will be embedded with immersive shopping narratives. Lead by AR/VR technology and powered by AI for targeted advertising. Enabling businesses to segment consumer groups with hyper-personalized ads and enhance their online social interactions.

Why is social commerce important for businesses?

Data Reportal states that ‘Detailed analysis by the team at Kepios shows that there are 4.95 billion social media users around the world in October 2023, equating to 61.4 percent of the total global population.’

Indian Brand Equity Foundation reports that ‘India’s social commerce has the potential to expand to US$ 16-20 billion in FY25, growing at a CAGR of 55-60%.’This massive growth sprout has fuelled a significant creator economy. One where influencers have become pivotal in shaping consumer purchase decisions. Highlighting how critical their role is in shaping social media platforms’ shopping experiences. Especially to target the growing GenZ and millennial user base.

The growth of influencer marketing offers brands direct insights into consumer mindset shifts. Like whom the consumers trust online and where they prefer to shop to build strategic s-commerce models.

61.4% figure also offers us an insight into how crucial it has become for brands to embrace social commerce. Not simply to magnify sales but also to tap into a global and active user base. One that helps them to nurture a meaningful connection with the users beyond offering online shopping.

Businesses embracing social commerce

Social commerce has embedded a variety of experiences into its platform. Each offering builds excitement, engagement, and exclusive experiences. Here’s how brands are utilizing social commerce to drive sales and connect with their users:

1.Live shopping

This translates to live streaming with the addition of shopping live. Businesses are building partnerships with influencers to build their live videos on social media platforms. Influencers showcase new product launches, offer demos of the services, interact live with the audience on Q&A, and more. Building real-time interactions with the users to push sales.

USP: Shopping Lives is an insistent sale format that encourages instant decision-making for users to make purchases on limited-period deals.

2. Shoppable visual content – photos and videos

The visual content on social media applications like photos and videos is now more than an engagement tool. A user can click on the photos to read more about the product details and make a purchase. The photos and videos are clickable with information. Building a seamless experience that has evolved over the years to integrate shopping into a user’s social browsing.

USP: Users have the ease to make their purchase without leaving the application and discover new products on the brand page.

3.Targeted shoppable ads

This is a significant game-changer for brands. Social commerce brings in a highly personalized and targeted ad offering with one-click-away shopping experiences. The ads appear in users’ social browsing with a Shop Now button to purchase from the ad. Social media applications offer highly specific targeting capabilities that maximize a business’s reach potential.

USP: Businesses can target users with specific interests, behaviors, interactions, etc. Increasing the likelihood of a sale. Building preferred user segments for highly personalized ads.

4. Virtual product library

Social media applications have become the ideal product lookbook and library for brands. Businesses can display their product lines and new launches on a creative and interactive platform. The social platforms offer tools such as product tags and product prices that offer businesses the opportunity to build engaging shopping experiences. Encouraging users to explore, search, review, and purchase.

USP: Brands can seamlessly integrate a catalogue of its products on social media platforms for users. Allowing them to search on the social media platform itself without having to leave the application.

5.Product Launch

Social media product launches have become sought-after events when done right. Brands leverage the power of creator and influencer collaborations to build successful product launches. Creating a buzz for the new launch via teasers, countdown, offering exclusive discounts for the live event attendees or subscribers, and exclusive previews.

USP: It helps businesses generate excitement for their products, create a buzz, and collect direct feedback from potential customers.

6.Transaction checkout

A seamless transaction on social media applications is only possible with an in-app checkout facility. This has truly transformed the social commerce experience for users. One that businesses are considering a critical component to target young professionals in GenZ.

USP: It streamlines shopping on social commerce, reducing many steps to sales conversion.

Considering the fundamental shift in consumers and how businesses approach online sales, social commerce is here to stay and expand. It brings users a more personalized journey and the opportunity to engage with brands at a personal level. It allows brands to set highly specific target groups, enhance their user experiences, and build real-time engagement.

As brands like Meta, Microsoft, and others are prepping the world of Metaverse, social commerce is set to spread its wings into the digital 3D realm. Creating new career opportunities for digital marketing experts in the realm of social marketing and social commerce. Making s-commerce a lucrative sector to build a career for digital professionals.

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