TBC Explainer: Here's why you should care about social commerce

Ever pondered about a cute handbag on Instagram but weren't able to locate it on Amazon? Social commerce makes this an easy process for you.
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In the day and age where everything is moving to a hybrid platform, there's no surprise that e-commerce, too, is moving onto a more user-friendly space. Today, we're seeing social media joining hands with e-commerce, paving the way for a more effective way to market products.

What is social commerce?

Social commerce involves undeviatingly purchasing from a third-party company. This only means the products you're looking to buy are directly available on social media. Social commerce transforms your entire shopping experience — beginning from product discovery and research to the check out process — takes place right on a social media platform.

For instance: You can find a pair of cute pastel shoes on Instagram; however, you don't have to visit its e-commerce platform to buy it. All you need to do is simply click on it to make your purchase on Instagram. You could also similarly find a product on Twitter and Facebook that won't redirect you to its site but allow you to buy it from social media itself.

What is the difference between social commerce and e-commerce?

There's only a thin line between social commerce and e-commerce. In fact, you could also call these interconnected. However, e-commerce (or electronic-commerce) is when you buy and sell products or services through the internet.

However, the only difference here is customers on e-commerce platforms have to choose products based on photos or descriptions provided by the retailer.

Social commerce is, however, is not social merchandising. Social selling refers to developing relations on social media to strengthen your trades prospect record.

Some of the social media apps that currently allow social commerce on their platform include Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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What are the benefits of social commerce?

Social commerce helps enhance your shopping experience. As a retailer, it allows interactive experiences instead of the typical e-commerce participation.

It allows consumers to directly flaunt the products they've bought online to their audience, who can — in return — purchase it without having to navigate to another website.

Theoretically speaking, here's how engaging in social commerce actually helps you:

Audience growth: Perhaps the most crucial part of any business is to figure out a way to improve its reach and target audience. According to a report published by Statista, Facebook now has over a billion active users each month, and numerous people join the platform every hour. There's tremendous scope for growth if growth in the audience your aim.

Better ranking on search engines: Search engine optimisation has become of utmost importance in today's digital age. Having the option of social commerce on your website can evidently boost traffic and drive consumers to visit your page. Doing this can improve your search engine ranking and credibility. It also manages to expand engagements on your page, thereby retaining the visitors successfully.

Scope for authentic engagement: As stated above, having engagement and traffic on your website is good for your search engine rankings. On regularly sharing social commerce content, retailers have the opportunity to show up regularly on their follower's feeds. People who have regular communication with a business are likely to recommend that company.

— Client retention & loyalty: Social commerce not only helps retain consumers — but also builds a positive relationship with them. It reinforces brand loyalty and commitment with the audience, who then repeat purchases based on their experience. Buyers who find a fluid shopping process could return time and again to the page for more products. Social commerce is the perfect medium to get instantaneous feedback along with results.

— Profitable for businesses: Apart from everything, social commerce acts as a metric system to measure profits for your business. It is simpler to gauge impressions, mood, engagement, performance and traffic on the website when you link it with social media. Apart from that, with more and more users choosing to join such platforms, it has become essential to have your presence as a brand.

Type of social commerce

Social commerce can be of various types; however, here are the five most common types that you could start with to market your product online:

  • Social-media driven sales: A 'shop' or 'marketplace' page on Facebook can help drive sales for your product. This type of social commerce is now a rising trend and has seen several examples across media -- including Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram.

  • Peer recommendation sales: Amazon or Flipkart relies on this method of social commerce. These are more community-driven sales that directly reach out to individuals on their platforms.

  • Peer-to-peer sales: In contrast to peer recommendation sales, peer-to-peer sales allow retailers or marketplaces to reach out to individuals. An example of this would be Amazon Marketplace.

  • Group buying: A slightly lesser-known form of social commerce is group buying. This format includes products offered at a reduced rate if enough buyers agree to purchase the services.

  • User-curated commerce: This type of sale allows its audience to create a list and share those products and services for others to shop. While there's no Indian equivalent for user-curated commerce, sites like Lyst and Groupon are prime examples of this type of social commerce.

Should I care about social commerce?

Well, yes! Despite being in its infancy, social commerce is on its way to becoming the next big thing. Online marketplaces and retailers have to strive and find methods to thrive during the digital age. In fact, it was during the COVID-19 crisis that social commerce found its place with the consumers. Studies on this phenomenon show that approximately 86 per cent of customers view product reviews as a crucial aspect when investigating and deciding products to buy.

Today, social media is has turned into a robust platform for disseminating news — serving marketers into the arena of social proofing. According to Gartner, 74 per cent of purchasers now depend upon social networks to guide their purchases. Perhaps, what we're going through is a revolution in all forms of media. However, the idea of moulding yourself by keeping up with the times is what a hybrid future is all about.

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