What Is Social Commerce?

Shopping

5 Min Read

Illustration of a hand holding a phone with a green shopping cart on the screen in a social commerce environment because phone is surrounded by round social media reaction icons

What Is the Future of Social Commerce?

Buying products directly on social media is the next big thing — research shows that social commerce is projected to be worth $604.5 billion by 2027. According to a poll by The Drum, almost two out of three UK shoppers would prefer to buy from a brand if they could shop and complete the sale while on a social media platform.

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the shift to e-commerce and social commerce. People spend much more time at home, on their phones, and on social media. In fact, eMarketer had predicted less than 20% growth in 2020 for social commerce but had to almost double it to nearly 38% because of the pandemic. 

So, what is the future of social commerce? 

What Is Social Commerce?

Basically, social commerce is buying stuff through a social media site rather than a separate e-commerce website. It's an emerging and still evolving trend that allows customers to buy directly off of social media sites and apps like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok. These social apps personalize the shopping experience, and the recommendations made for customers. Allowing you to make a purchase and checkout from the social platform is likely the next phase.

How Does Social Commerce Affect You?

Social commerce offers more than an opportunity to discover new products on social platforms — it provides a moving walkway to a digital checkout counter for the products you love. Whether or not your favorite brands will use social commerce depends on what they sell. Expect social commerce to pop up as an option for retailers that sell things like:

  • Accessories
  • Clothing
  • Consumer electronics
  • Interior decorations
  • Makeup

Other types of companies are also utilizing social commerce. For example, LEGO customers enjoyed the whimsical chatbot named Ralph that the company deployed in Facebook Messenger. Being ready to embrace social commerce can make your shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.

But adversely, you may end up spending more than you’d like as products become part of your normal feed.

What Should You Look Out For?

There are a few things to be aware of as a shopper before jumping on the social commerce bandwagon. First, social commerce ads may come across as more neighborly than standard ads, so they may be difficult to spot. These ads could come from influencers you follow, from content generated by fellow product users, or calls to action in posts. Make sure you look for things like:

  • The ad hashtag (#Ad) on Instagram or Tiktok
  • The "Paid Partnership" label on Facebook
  • The label on YouTube that says "video contains paid promotion"
  • The "Promoted" label on Pinterest

Also, be sure you trust the platform you're shopping on. When you checkout on the app, you have to include your credit card information and shipping address with the transaction. So you need to trust the social media platform enough to enter your private information. If you have doubts, search for the product elsewhere. However, keep an eye out for a tech innovation called Web 3.0 that may make social commerce safer for users in 2022.

What Is the Future of Social Commerce?

In the not-too-distant future, social commerce will be a major player in many businesses ' sales. It will be interactive and personalized. Here are the top ways you can get the most out of social commerce while not busting your budget.

Heading to Social-Based Shops

Social platforms are implementing new social commerce options for users, like Shops on Facebook and Instagram. These are shops built into the social platform that users can browse without having to leave the social media page. Also, Instagram launched its Checkout feature in 2019. Checkout allows companies to create "shoppable posts" that let customers make purchases within the app by clicking on the post. Snapchat has a Shop Now feature that works in a similar manner.

Companies can link to products in their shops by tagging them or adding a link box to Instagram Stories — allowing you to make a purchase without leaving the app.

It’s kind of easier than ever to make a purchase. But with an app like Monorail, you’ll have a place to put all the items you want from your social feed.

Joining a Live Stream

Companies can use the live feature in apps like Facebook and Instagram to show off products and answer your questions. Facebook offers a Live Shopping Video that lets you interact directly with members of the company to get advice right from the source.

Luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton received positive customer reviews — and 131 million views — after livestreaming its spring 2022 menswear event on several popular Chinese social media platforms. The livestream showed a less formal and more accessible side to the high fashion company, which many customers appreciated.

Asking Questions on Live Chat

Live chat is an easy way to connect with companies. You can ask questions and get purchase issues cleared up right away. For example, skincare company Tula.com had to shift from in-person to digital sales during the pandemic. They noted that their customers appreciated chatting with live agents about which products would be best for their skincare routine.

Chatting With Chatbots

On Facebook, brands are also introducing what's called "chat commerce." This feature uses chatbots to assist with online shopping and answer questions about products quickly — and at any time. Although it might feel odd to talk to a chatbot, one benefit is that you'll have 24/7 access to help. Some companies even customize their chatbots. This is exactly what LEGO did with its fun and animated chatbot character named Ralph that worked with its customers to resolve issues and answer questions.

Using Shoppable Ads

Shoppable ads allow users to click on products they want to purchase and checkout immediately without having to leave the app. This type of ad exists on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can click on ads that tag the company's products and buy them right away. You can also buy directly from Instagram Reels.

The Future of Commerce Is Social

It’s easier than ever to spend your money. And it’s only going to become more and more frictionless.

While social commerce allows you to connect with your favorite brands on more than one level, create more trust, and stay in the know of its latest products, social commerce could also lead you to overspend, resulting in unwanted financial stress.

Shopping alternatives may be clutch in helping you stay within budget so you can reach your financial goals. For example, with the Monorail app you can still shop anywhere, drop your wanted items into a wishlist, and save for it on autopilot. That way you get the things you really want, and you have zero buyer’s remorse.

See how Monorail can help you shop and navigate social commerce.

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