This year, eCommerce revenue is projected to reach US$5.02 billion. The combination of the long-drawn-out pandemic, as well as broader adoption of online shopping, means that the eCommerce industry is filling space that brick-and-mortar stores have been forced to exit. With this industry expansion comes new innovations that online merchants need to be aware of, and even adopt.
Online shopping by its very nature is customer-focused. People are shopping using a private device, in a private space – their phone or computer. To target audiences, draw traffic and drive sales, the eCommerce industry has had to develop creative ways to engage with potential customers.
Social commerce is the buying and selling of products or services directly from a social media platform. This makes it easier for people who are browsing to become customers. For example, an Instagram user sees an influence wearing Gucci shoes. The user can click on the tag and make a purchase directly from Instagram through a gateway to Gucci that does not force the user away from Instagram. In-app purchases have been increasing in popularity in the past 12 months as social media users’ confidence in the security and reliability of the sites increases.
Social commerce trends
According to research, 73% of businesses are already participating in social commerce while 79% expect to be doing so in the next three years. Selling on social media is a trend, but it is expected to be one that will continue. While Meta (formally Facebook) is facing some trust issues, it continues to be used by millions of people worldwide. Other social platforms, like WeBo, have been offering social shopping for many years. Any breaches of trust or security are fast forgotten in a 24/7 news cycle and fast-paced PR mill that changes the conversation. Until such a time that social media platforms are more strictly regulated by governments, social media, and social selling, are set to continue to grow.
- 55.5% of consumers aged 18-24 and 48.7% of consumers aged 25-34 made at least one purchase on social media in 2021.
- By 2025, US social commerce is estimated to be nearly a US$79.6 billion industry.
Selling products on social platforms makes sense to the customer. It is a smoother and faster customer journey, and a reduced opportunity to abandon a cart. No waiting for landing pages to load, no redirection, and often simple payment processing based on stored customer data mean that the sale is a fast and simple transaction for the customer.
How to adopt social commerce for your business
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and WeChat are offering social commerce in the US, EU, and parts of Australasia, and YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter are set to follow. To launch this service for your business, first identify the social platform that your target audience uses in the highest numbers. Then, research the costs, how the platform will target your audience and what metrics you need to include to ensure the success of your social selling venture.
Augmented reality (AR) commerce
Augmented Reality (AR) in eCommerce helps customers by using 3D mapping so customers can try on products or preview services before making a purchase. Some examples of AR eCommerce include virtually furnishing a living room, testing a shade of foundation, putting together an outfit, and test-driving a new car.
AR commerce trends
Snapchat was the first to introduce AR into social media platforms. In 2020, as lockdowns forced shoppers exclusively online in many parts of the world, AR rose in importance, and by the end of 2022, it is expected that it will be used at least once a month by 101.6 million consumers in the US.
In 2021, Snap purchased Vertebrae, a company that produces 3D images of products for brands. Investments like these, as well as from other major social platforms like Facebook and Pinterest, indicate that AR is considered an essential service to online selling.
AR is a game-changer for online shopping. The technology allows customers to experience a product before making a purchase, just as they would in-store. The technology helps merchants to smooth the customer journey, address a major pain point for many customers and secure more sales.
How to adopt AR for your business
Meta is offering Spark AR Studio on Facebook and Instagram for any retailers to use. Developers and creators are able to create their own effects and experiences. From building simple face filters to more complex world filters, elements can be developed with or without code. Spark AR makes it easy for merchant teams to learn how to add a fun filter to your shopping experience or even add a virtual room.
Livestream shopping is the blend of social commerce and live-streaming. Just like the telemericals of the 90s, influencers use their social capital to highlight products and services. During the broadcast, consumers are able to interact with each other and the brand via a chatbox and purchase the highlighted products. Many smaller operators have been using this technique to push ‘unique’ or limited-run products to the front for years.
Livestream shopping trends
Livestream eCommerce shopping is popular in China and the US. In 2020 it was reported that Livestream sales were at US$6 billion, twice the previous year’s event sales. In 2022, it is predicted that Livestream commerce in China will reach US$446 billion, which would be 15% of total online sales. The interactive nature, and the pressure of impulse buying, seem to be the main attractions to Livestream shopping. The live chat feature allows people to chat in a community, offering a social element to the shopping experience. The service is often used by people in multilevel marketing, so shoppers are often part of the same group-think mentality, and they drive each other to buy.
How to adopt Livestreaming Shopping for your business
Livestream shopping is available on multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest. All either already have or are testing live-stream shopping features on their platform. It is expected that Amazon will introduce the feature at some point as well.
To make the most of the opportunity, loosely scripting the sales pitch and demonstrations of products, as well as selecting the right ‘face’, in the environment that most appeals to your target audience is essential. For some brands, a messy ‘wardrobe’ with poor lighting appeals to buyers, whereas for others, a more ‘aspirational’ appeal is desired, with bright lighting and a ‘magazine’ cover interior setting. The space needs to be consistent with your brand and messaging.
New technology is ensuring smoother customer journeys and a better brand experience. Brands need to take advantage of how social platforms are opening to eCommerce. While merchants should approach companies such as Meta with caution, they also need to occupy the space their customers are most likely found. Using social platforms to reach audiences and sell directly without creating junctions in the customer journey, is the best way to secure sales in 2022 and grow your eCommerce.