Trendy vs. Long Term Trends: Why Social Commerce is Here to Stay
Unlike other social media trends, online shopping through social media platforms is here to stay. Learn more about social commerce and see why Authvia is the perfect solution for this new revenue opportunity.
Social commerce soared in popularity over the past few years, and shows no signs of abating! Social commerce creates new opportunities for companies of all sizes and verticals.E-commerce exploded in large part from the convenience it offered to consumers. E-commerce adoption was hastened by newcomers, while existing users accelerated their volume and breadth of purchases. According to Mastercard’s Executive Chairman Ajay Banca, pre-pandemic e-commerce transactions accounted for 8-10% of all volume but during the pandemic the level approached 25%. Moreover, while Mr. Banca expects volume to pullback from its peak, expectations are for levels to settle around 15-17% volume or +50% from pre-pandemic levels.
New commerce technologies make it easier than ever to discover and explore products or services. Combining commerce discovery, promotion, and search with common social activities, such as instant messaging behaviors – chat and texting – drives greater conversion. Payment technology offered by Authvia allows businesses to take it a step further – by providing simple payment solutions such as chatbot payments and SMS payments in the conversation or messaging stream for a frictionless transaction.
Savvy marketers and business owners are using social commerce to drive sales by connecting e-commerce, support chat, and social media channels. If you’re ready to learn about digital transformation, this article is the perfect place to start. We’ll discuss what social commerce is, how it works, and how it could create new revenue opportunities for your business.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is the ability to make a purchase from a third party company on various social media apps and platforms. However social activities by people extend beyond passive consumption of viewing a “news feed”. Social activities involve “lean forward” activities such as having a conversation with a family member, friend, and increasingly with a business. In fact, over the previous 5-years, Chat was the fastest growing medium for communications with growth over 350%. Messaging was a close second, with nearly 300% growth during the same period.
This means that you can do more than create a passive audience in your digital channels. You can communicate, sell, and close sales using chatbots or with a live agent using support chat or text. Today’s buying journey may be made from digital channels, but it is no less social than an in-person visit. The relationship between seller and buyer forms over an exchange of information, generally in the form of a conversation – from product discovery and research to the actual secure payment check out process.
Social commerce is evolving as a preferred medium for many to explore and discuss the value or fit of a product or service and ultimately commit to buying during the process. To realize the full potential of this long-term trend is the capacity to have fast, simple, and safe transactions Top executives and marketers agree that social commerce is becoming an increasingly larger part of their overall business model. This isn’t just a trendy thing to do – it’ll likely be a long term trend, as 8 in 10 companies surveyed expect to be selling within social media platforms in the next 3 years.
E-Commerce vs. Social Commerce: What’s the Difference?
More than half of all internet traffic is from mobile devices, and mobile users have a higher cart abandonment rate compared to PC or desktop users.
Some of the most common reasons for cart abandonment are:
- A confusing and long checkout process. Shoppers want to check out as easily as possible. A checkout process with multiple steps and forms can frustrate shoppers to the point of abandoning their cart, but also permanently alienate them from visiting your online store again.
- Mandatory account creation. Many first time shoppers do not want to have to create an account. This is one of the top reasons for cart abandonment. Creating an account is an unnecessary barrier to purchase, and yet many online sellers require it.
- Concerns over payment security. Many customers are very cautious about online payments and don’t feel safe handing over some of their most sensitive information. If they don’t feel secure about their payment method, they will abandon their cart and likely not return to your online store.
- Lack of easy and desirable payment options. Online shoppers want to be able to finish their purchase using convenient payment methods. Inability to support a preferred method is another key reason why carts are abandoned.
Because of the increasing number of shoppers using their cell phones, the importance of removing the friction of the buying experience cannot be over emphasized
Social commerce dramatically improves the buying experience. Executed well, it removes the extra steps that result in abandoned carts (e.g., unnecessary registration/sign-in, etc.). Businesses simply sell their products or services on a social media platform using an independent software vendor (ISV) for fulfillment.
ISVs provide managed services and software solutions that address different functions of a business operation, like invoicing, payments, or providing customer and payment analytics. Choosing the right partner is crucial for companies interested in exploring and extracting business value from commerce via social channels, particularly instant messaging, chatbot, and live chat applications.
Social Commerce Trends in 2021
It’s easy to see why social commerce is exploding.
Just check out these social commerce statistics and social commerce trends in 2021:
- The social commerce market size is continuously growing. In 2020, social commerce in the USA was estimated at~$27B.
- Social commerce sales in the USA are expected to rise to $35B+ in 2021 alone.
- Social commerce is expected to reach ~$80B in 2025
- 98% of socially-engaged shoppers use social media for personal use
- 52% of these shoppers make a purchase through social media platforms
Types of Social Commerce
Social commerce on household brand names like Instagram is booming. Today, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest dominate push commerce activities.
What is Push Commerce?
Push commerce activities are targeted ads that take advantage of rich profile and behavioral information to deliver contextually relevant product suggestions in a news feed or as a person consumes content on the selected platform (this information can be shared with third parties too, but we’ll focus on the actual platform for now). This type of business activity targeting a consumer based on information from their social activities, including a conversation, is a form of push advertising or push commerce. These platforms are able to lift information from a two-way conversation with an individual or a group and then apply that information to target the user with relevant ads, including dynamic shopping experiences (i.e., multiple product choices). For example, if friends are chatting about an upcoming friend’s baby shower in a chat application, the technology platform is able to use this context to serve the participants in the conversation a wide range of ads related to a baby shower from newborn clothing, to infant accessories, to items for a new Mom or Dad.
Let’s look at the big 3 more in depth.
Facebook Shops doesn’t cost anything to set up and has a low barrier to entry. Facebook Shops is used in conjunction with your Facebook business profile.
The process is very easy. You simply upload your inventory list. The Shop tab features products based on your user preferences so that your ideal customers can find your products organically. As mentioned above, using paid promotions (ads) helps a merchant boost reach and awareness of your products and services. Ultimately, the goal is to convert more prospects to paying customers.
This is a powerful tool. You can:
- Connect your products to people where they shop.
- Seamlessly complete transactions with mobile consumers
- Engage and inspire shoppers with visual merchandise.
Once customers find your products, they can purchase on your website or within the Facebook platform. Businesses that connect a tool like Authvia, can create a two-way conversation for consumers to ask questions about a product. A chatbot or a live agent can confirm availability, pricing, and ultimately Authvia’s payment technology completes the transaction within the existing conversation between the seller and the buyer.
Instagram shopping works very similar to Facebook, as it is connected to your Facebook shop. Setting up a shop is very easy. Users just link their account to their Facebook business profile. Users can then upload their product catalog.
Instagram offers a lot more opportunity for creativity within social commerce promotion. This is due to Instagram being such a visually appealing platform. Brands can create shoppable stories and posts that directly link to in-app product pages! Moreover, you can streamline the buying process with payments over text using Authvia.
Pinterest is a fantastic platform for social commerce. Almost 90% of all users are actively searching for purchase inspiration! This tool is visually appealing and users can pin products, making them ultra shareable, and easy for them to come back to!
You can use Product Pins that have availability and pricing info. You can use a platform like Authvia to make it convenient and safe for customers to buy your products, making it the perfect choice for your business!
Benefits of Social Commerce
Social commerce has so many benefits. As we’ve discussed, contextually relevant suggestions (ads), coupled with a streamlined checkout process reduces abandoned carts, makes shopping easier, and is all around great for your business. But there are also a ton of other benefits of social commerce.
Social commerce offers an instant focus group for your business!
Social commerce offers a great way to collect feedback. Your goods and services are out there for the consumers to explore, discuss, and review. This is a big deal. 84% of online consumers check out a brand’s social media before making a purchase. Furthermore, 92% of online shoppers are influenced by reading reviews and information on a social media site. Adding a chatbot or livechat to this buyer journey is a key component when closing a sale. Indeed merchants who add the capacity to sell, close, and collect payments during a chat conversation see over 130% more leads and over 100% deals won. This makes social commerce not only an ideal medium to share product information, but also a fantastic opportunity to have a customer conversation, answer questions, build rapport, and close more business.
With social commerce, you can get very clear data on who your customers are, what they enjoy, and even get to chat with them through DMs or comments, creating a highly personalized customer service experience.
It’s where Online shoppers, including Millennials and Gen Z, like to shop.
For many online businesses and ecommerce stores, the target demographic lies within the 18 to 24 age range. This makes them the perfect target market for social commerce since the majority are online and waiting to shop while scrolling.
Opening up your business to social commerce is a great way to reach this target market and increase your revenue!
Social commerce allows you to target your ideal audience.
Social commerce allows you to have an incredible amount of consumer data at your fingertips. This gives you a great opportunity to really target your advertising to your prime audience.
No matter what you offer, you can directly advertise to the exact kind of clients you want. SOcial commerce allows you to really get specific items in front of specific people who want them- in a way that traditional selling and ecommerce simply cannot.
This allows you to increase your revenue while making sure every precious marketing dollar is spent wisely on people who are really interested in what you have to offer.
Higher Search Engine Rankings
Social media marketing is a fantastic way to increase traffic to your website organically. Furthermore, it can positively influence personalized search results, helping you rank higher in search engines.
Drive Authentic Engagement
Social networking allows you to open up the door to two way communication between your customers and your brand. This means you can really relate and learn from your audience, not just sell. Content doesn’t just show up in your customer’s feed, but also allows them to interact with it in a really meaningful way- through liking, sharing, tagging friends, commenting,and more.
This allows you to connect on a deeply personal level, which should be the goal for any brand who is serious about customer satisfaction and growing their business.
Get More Happy Customers
Social media really allows you to get more happy customers. Happy customers means repeat businesses, positive referrals, and brand loyalty. This is key to a successful brand!
On social media, customers are more likely to read opinions, reviews, and comments before making a purchase decision. In fact, 91% of 18 to 24 year olds trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations from friends and families! Furthermore, 93% of customers say that online reviews heavily influenced their purchase behavior and decisions.
When you actively engage with your customers and provide a great product, this is wonderful news. This means you are more likely to get happy customers- and keep them by engaging with them authentically.
Social commerce can really increase brand loyalty. Social media really helps brands connect with their customers in a way that was never possible before.
So, how can you leverage social commerce to build brand loyalty? Build emotional connections, align your brand with the customer, share and live by your values, and engage on social media with your customers. Offer value, be transparent, and be active on social media. While it does take time to build trust and brand loyalty, the benefits are worth the effort and the wait!
Increase of Average Order Value
Using social commerce is a proven way to increase your sales and your average order value. Average order value refers to the average amount a customer spends when they place an order for your store.
There are several reasons for this:
- Social commerce makes it super easy to shop, no matter where they are
- Social proof helps convince customers that the products are worth buying
- The checkout process is a lot quicker, which results in customers buying things
right when they want them instead of abandoning their cart for a period of time.
This is particularly helpful as customers spending more on an average order increases your revenue without any additional costs on your end for marketing or acquiring new customers.
Data and Analytics
Social commerce really helps increase revenue and opportunities due to data, reporting, and analytics. Using social commerce can help you prove your return on investment. With social media analytic tools, you can see what social media activities work, what don’t, and what you can improve on.
Furthermore, tools like Google Analytics can track website traffic that is generated from social media. You can easily keep an eye on:
- Social media traffic
- Email or SMS sign ups
- ROI for both organic and paid traffic
A payment tool like Authvia also provides data and analytics. At the tip of your fingertips, you can easily get access to detailed consumer insights so you can understand purchasing behavior and better serve your customers- resulting in more loyalty and more sales.
Reach a Global Audience
One of the coolest things about social media is that it knows no bounds. There are no geographical boundaries. For online businesses that would like an international audience, there is simply no better way to promote and sell products than on social media. This makes it a great choice for business owners either selling to international audiences or expanding to international audiences.
- Facebook alone has over 2.7 billion users on a global level, and the platform is available in over 100 languages.
- Instagram has over one billion monthly active users
- Pinterest has over 478 million monthly active users worldwide.
The potential there is amazing for businesses who want an international reach. Even better? Brands can target their ads to customers anywhere on the globe, meaning you can reach exactly who you want to. Furthermore, people from all over the globe can discuss, review, and engage with brands in a centralized place that makes it easy to communicate.
Social commerce makes expanding your brand on a global level so much easier than traditional ecommerce. The opportunities for growth are practically endless, assuming you do the research and do it right.
To make sure that you expand and do things right, you’ll have to have a well thought out and realistic social commerce strategy and plan that you write out, implement, and evaluate.
The benefits are clear, but one major question remains…
Is Social Commerce Really Here to Stay?
Yes! Yes x1000. Since social commerce rose a few years ago, it has grown exponentially.
While some things in social media are short term trends, social commerce is not one of them.
In fact, social commerce is actually predicted to completely upend and dwarf traditional ecommerce! Savvy marketers and entrepreneurs know that the only way to succeed in a changing global landscape is to pivot for new technologies and the times. Social commerce is one of them.
More people than ever are turning to popular social media platforms for product recommendations and reviews, which is one of the first steps of the customer buying journey! It just makes good sense to go where the shoppers are- right to social media, where the process can be so streamlined that customers love the checkout process and keep coming back for more!
What This Means for Ecommerce Companies and Entrepreneurs
It may be difficult to determine what is a trend and what is here to stay. Ecommerce owners and entrepreneurs have enough on their plate. Small businesses are in charge of making or procuring the product, doing consumer research, marketing, fulfilling orders, shipping, following up on reviews, and a million other things. It makes sense that ecommerce owners and small businesses would be weary about putting time, effort, and hard earned money into something that ends up being a passing fad.
So.. what does social commerce mean for you as a small business owner? Should you make these changes to accommodate customers by using social commerce or a payment platform like AuthVia? If so, what can you do to get started?
Social commerce is a growing revolution. It’s quickly becoming one of the most innovative features in online shopping. Business owners who care about innovation, streamlining the checkout process, and keeping up with the current times should absolutely experiment with social commerce.
You can start today by doing some research. You must understand your audience, what they like and don’t like, how they prefer to buy, and where they are spending their time on the internet.
Think about your demographics. Older generations may not be as likely as younger generations to want to use social commerce. If your primary target market consists of Millenials and Gen Z, you should absolutely consider trying out a payment platform like Authvia.
One way to get started is to start small. Start with one social media site, and don’t try to do too much at one time. That will lead to burn out, a lack of focus on dominating in the market, and will be all around difficult when you first get started. Think about the three major players and what is best for your business.
- Facebook: This is a platform with a booming marketplace. Demographics vary but users who shop on Facebook and use it regularly are typically between 18 and 48.
- Pinterest: Pinterest is dominated by female users, but male users are starting to use the app as well and are predicted to close the gender gap in useage. Pinterest is a fantastic platform with visual search tools that can do wonder for small businesses.
- Instagram: According to Statista, more than half of the global Instagram population worldwide is 34 years or younger. This is the perfect platform for reaching Millennials and Gen Z users.
After you decide to conquer one platform, it’s important to put in the work up front to get it right the first time around. Optimize, optimize, optimize. Though this is more work up front, it is likely to pay off, especially when using a processor like Authvia, that offers insight and analytics so you can understand your audience better and provide an amazing customer experience.
There’s one thing to keep in mind. Selling on social media means that you must build trust on the platforms. That should absolutely be the priority before you start selling products. You’ll need a good social following, along with trust. Why is trust so important? Scams abound online.
Consumers are more weary than ever to enter their personal information and debit card online, so there has to be trust. This is a very important asset of succeeding in social commerce that shouldn’t be underestimated.
More than Just Social Media
Payment solutions like AuthVia allow your business to do so much more than process payments over social media. You can not only use AuthVia to streamline the checkout process through your social media platforms of choice, but can also implement other payment methods to make it super easy for your customers to shop from you!
A few ways to increase your revenue through different payment methods are the use of:
- SMS invoice. Customers can get a secure link to their phone and check out, without the need for visiting other websites or creating accounts. This allows customers to pay from anywhere, at their convenience. TXT2PAY API is innovative and allows your customers to easily pay for their order with no added stress. Win-win for both the customer and your brand!
- Chatbot payments. Chatbots can do so much for your business. Customers can ask questions, place orders, and even do chatbot payments to make the process simple and easy.
- Using Authvia payment software for websites. Customers can simply check out on your website. Again, no need for extra steps, forms, or account creation.
Social commerce is the new way to do business online. It’s easier, more secure, and lets your customers pay with privacy. Social commerce has so many benefits:
- It reduces abandoned carts.
- Social commerce makes the checkout process easier
- Helps build brand loyalty and keep your customers coming back due to the easy and secure checkout process
- It’s the future of ecommerce, and pivoting towards this technology will keep you competitive, especially with Millennial and Gen Z shoppers, who love finding, researching, and buying new products and services through their favorite social media platforms.
Social commerce can do so much for your business. Going with a payment platform like Authvia is a no-brainer for sellers serious about increasing their business and making shopping super easy for their customers.
Authvia also offers a wide variety of solutions for merchants like you. Authvia provides end-to-end payment flows, customer management, billing, consumer insights, and payment analytics. This allows you to make more money, figure out what works best for your business and your customers, and provide an exceptional customer experience.