The social commerce 21st century take over

Social commerce might seem like 21st century invention, but it actually emerged back in 1995 with the advent of eBay – allowing people to trade between themselves and rate their buying and selling experience. Around the same time came Amazon which introduced customer reviews for their products. Fast forward 20 years to 2015 and social media platforms like Facebook and SnapChat are making it possible for users to message money to each other. The size of the global social commerce market has ballooned from $5 billion in 2011 to $30 billion today, according to data on Statista.

 

Social commerce is born of social media and ecommerce

 

Social commerce, aka s-ecommerce, is the bridge between social media and e-commerce. E-commerce allows you to buy and pay for products online. Add in social media and you have a shopping platform that allows customers to buy, pay for and connect with brands as well as other customers. Social commerce is an exchange of information as well as an exchange of goods for money. It helps customers discover exciting new products and gives them an interactive experience, not just a way to buy things.

 

The variety of social commerce is set to keep growing

 

The term social commerce covers a whole spectrum of different current social commerce trends. There are communities which simply share product reviews, like Yowzit. Platforms such as Groupon provide a way to buy discounted items thanks to multiple buyers purchasing the same item: essentially, bulk buying. Peer-to-peer sites, which spawned e-commerce, allow individuals to sell to one another and sites such as Laudable let users curate shopping lists that others can buy off. Even a “share” button on an e-commerce site, letting a buyer tell their Twitter followers what they’ve just bought, is a strain of social commerce. With innovation in the digital space developing as quickly as it is, social commerce trends will continue to evolve.

 

Today’s consumer is armed with almost unlimited amounts of information

 

The consumers of today are armed with more information than ever before – information being used to thoroughly research and back up a buying decision. They are less reliant on the information provided by brands themselves, instead choosing to seek out the opinion of their peers and other buyers. PWC conducted a global survey this year – of which 1,000 of 19,000 respondents were from South Africa – and found that 63% answered “yes” when asked if their discourse on social media resulted in them purchasing more online.

 

The onus is now on businesses to provide the experience their buyer is looking for

 

The balance of power has shifted from brands to the customer: if brands don’t provide them with the online experience and products they are looking for, they can simply click to another brand. As a retailer, it’s essential to leverage this desire for product information and provide your customers not only with a brilliant e-commerce portal, but with everything they need to interact with both your brand and other buyers.

 

Social commerce increases engagement, gets the conversation going and boosts sales

 

Social commerce facilitates conversation around your products – creating the invaluable publicity you want for your business. It is also the purest form of market research you could wish for and provides a way to engage with and get close to your most important asset –  your customers – and get them coming back to your site again and again. Customer service and care has never been so easy, thanks to social media. Social commerce will help you achieve the very thing you’re in this game for – to boost sales.

 

As a retailer, being aware of the power of social is crucial if you are to stay innovative and in touch with what your customers want. Bringing together two of this era’s most significant trends – social media and e-commerce – is a surefire way to ensure your business’ longevity and engagament with its customers