social commerce trends
June 02, 2016 | Shares:

The 4 Most Powerful Social Commerce Trends

It’s that time of year again: You’re looking for the best birthday gift for that special someone in your life.

Twenty years ago, you may have started your search at the nearby Macy’s.

But times – and the nature of social commerce – have changed.

Instead, you open your laptop and perform a quick search at your favorite online retailer.

It’s no secret: eCommerce is reshaping online social shopping trends.

According to eMarketer, eCommerce sales in the United States will grow to $491.5 billion by 2018.

With the rise of eCommerce and social media, there’s been a major push towards social commerce, where retailers and social networks are partnering to offer consumers a more convenient online shopping experience.

Some examples of recent social commerce trends in action:

  • Well-known brands like Amazon letting consumers add items to shopping carts with #AmazonCart.
  • Facebook’s “Buy” button makes it easier for customers to purchase products without leaving their social media accounts.
  • Hashtags and buttons help make buyers purchasing options effortless.
  • Shoppable Instagram features that replicate your account and create an Instagram shop, allowing followers to easily reach products
  • Conversational commerce is taking over communication between stores and shoppers

Of course, these are just a few of the ways that social commerce is impacting social shopping trends.

In order to improve customer retention strategies and build brand loyalty, companies must understand the complexities of social commerce and identify opportunities to maintain customer engagement strategies after the initial purchase.

So, why is social commerce important, and how can your business benefit from it?

Why Social Commerce Trends Matter

The ever-changing landscape of social commerce is influencing how businesses approach consumers in the marketplace.

When you look at examples of social trends, you can see that they’ve impacted the customer decision making process and how we interact with technology.

Awhile back, it was sufficient enough just to send product updates on Twitter. Now, companies must create an online experience equipped with product videos, peer reviews, and comparison charts.

Social media channels give consumers a new way to interact with brands 24/7.

As millions of people log on to their Facebook accounts, they can discuss grievances directly with sales reps, comment on the latest trends with friends, and post pictures of their favorite products, which makes a Facebook advertising strategy vital.

As online relationships become more personal and shoppers can connect more directly with brands, there’s a big opportunity for smart branding to play a big part in how customers feel about a brand.

Whether purchasing physical or digital products, marketers need to realize that shopping is a highly emotional endeavor.

Successful brands see these campaigns that pull on shoppers’ heartstrings as strategies to increase sales.

For instance, Coca-Cola launched its Share-a-Coke campaign, where popular first names were printed on the bottle labels, instead of the Coke logo.

social commerce

Each bottle also displayed the hashtag #ShareACoke to remind drinkers to post pictures on social media.

This campaign combined online and offline sharing (through hashtags and real-life sharing) to build buzz that made people happy to drink Coke and share it with their loved ones.

This is one example of social commerce taking a different view of what “social” means in our increasingly online and offline lives.

Examples of Social Commerce Strategies

Social commerce is deeply rooted in creating active communities. Here are a few examples of social commerce strategies built from community-driven commerce.

1) Participatory Commerce Takes Action Based on Customer Input

This sales model lets consumers directly participate in the designing or the funding of a product.

Platforms, like Kickstarter, let shoppers contribute money to creative projects they like.

Other companies turn to their customers for inspiration for new product ideas.

Either way, participatory commerce is about customers getting involved, hands-on, to influence the final outcome of a project.

2) Social Shopping Mimics the Offline Experience

Social shopping involves online shopping with family and friends.

It’s an effort to mimic the offline experience of hanging out with your buddies at the mall. Companies replicate these experiences with online chat and forum features.

One example is how fashion company Rent the Runway lets customers share photos and submit reviews.

social commerce

This helps the buyer learn more about how the clothes actually fit. Thus, making it easier for shoppers to choose the right outfits and feel as they would if they had a friend in tow at the store.

3) Curated Shopping Gives Every Shopper a Stylist

Similar to offline, sometime shoppers need a little assistance. This social commerce method lets tastemakers create shopping lists, and then people can shop from the experts’ recommendations.

ShoeDazzle gives their shoppers a personal stylist experience. They curate major trends in shoes and handbags. New members take a fashion quiz, and then receive weekly suggestions based on their specific tastes.

social commerce

Another example is the online shop AHALife. It offers curated, one-of-a-kind luxury products. This brand partners with industry leaders and innovators to give customers a distinctive shopping experience.

Visitors can follow the curators and purchase their products.

Both of these examples show how eCommerce stores are recreating the live shopping experience by adding a social recommendation element into the mix.

4) Peer Recommendations Facilitates Online Word-of-mouth

According to Moz, data uncovered that 67% of consumers are impacted by online reviews.

Allowing customers to not just write and read reviews, but share them with friends across social networks, allows people to recommend their favorite brands and products online.

And in this respect, online shopping has an advantage. Social networks allow brands to target similar audiences, so the recommendation of one person is read by a person similar to them.

This word-of-mouth marketing boosts trust and spreads your brand like wildfire.

How to Craft Better Social Shopping Experiences

Customers enjoy shopping in social settings, but they don’t want to be constantly interrupted by tracking tools.

The key is to find a happy balance where customers engage freely with brand influencers and companies can learn more about how to influence consumer behavior.

  • Use reviews. A survey found that consumer reviews are 157% more effective than traditional advertisements. Do more with reviews than just use them on your product pages – use them in social marketing and more to boost your overall marketing efforts.
  • Customize customer experiences. Monetate notes that 40% of consumers buy more from retailers who personalize the shopping experience across channels.
  • Bridge the gap from channel to channel. Capture social data to meet your consumer preferences. Personalization should be consistent on the purchaser’s desktop computer, mobile device, and in-store visit.
  • In the B2B space, establish your company as a thought leader. Create content that will develop authority, and deliver valuable social perks that establish credibility.
  • Speak to your customers’ needs. Businesses choose companies that understand their needs. Relevancy will offer the value they desire.

Shopping is not declining anytime soon.

That’s why it’s increasingly important for brands to meet their customer’s expectations by crafting a better shopping experience.

Conclusion: Social Commerce Is Here

Social commerce is helping brands expand beyond the usual online boundaries. Companies are gaining and maintaining long-term, trustful customer relationships.

Online communities can nurture brand loyalty with the support of relevant shopping experiences.

Increasing visibility and improving sales, it’s safe to say that social commerce is here to stay.

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Shayla Price
Shayla Price,
Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter: @shaylaprice.
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