Take a savvy marketer, combine it with the best bits of eCommerce and add a dash of social media and you have yourself some social commerce.
Still a fairly new introduction to the social sphere – but rapidly growing nonetheless – social commerce is proving itself as a fit competitor to its eCommerce counterpart by boasting a $492 billion industry value.
Its popularity has many marketers excited for what the future has in store for the industry, with many predicting it will change the traditional shopping experience entirely, as well as become a marketing staple from 2022 onwards.
Keep reading to discover what the future of social commerce has in store.
Social commerce right now
Social commerce, not to be confused with ecommerce, has an industry value that speaks entirely for itself. But, of course, it’s not always all about numbers.
Thanks to social media, users have solidified their position at the centre of the online purchasing chain. As Alexander Graf, co-founder of The Ecommerce Book puts it, “social commerce is still about selling, but now it is no longer the product that is the beginning, but the human being [and] the user is much more in the foreground as a producer or at the beginning of the process”. Over time, consumers have democratised the way in which they carry out their shopping experiences online by being a lot more particular about which brands they want to purchase from and how they do so. Social commerce fuels this by offering an entirely new shopping experience; one which gives the consumer a multitude of choices as opposed to having purchasing options forced on them.Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, which offer multiple browsing and purchasing options – such as TikTok shop, shopping livestreams and in-app purchases – are those that speak the language of the consumer best and will reap the benefits of what’s to come in the future of social commerce.
People and purchasing
No one is doing it quite like China.
In 2021 alone, Chinese social commerce generated over $400 billion through apps such as Douyin and Taobao Live. According to Statista, roughly 71% of surveyed Chinese consumers noted that they were likely to shop on social media platforms, compared to 42% of global respondents.
While China’s success with social commerce is undoubtedly light years ahead of their Western counterparts, there are several notable early adopters in Europe and the US.
With 44% of the world’s population using social media, users have embraced it as a source of entertainment, news, education, communication and politics. Adding commerce into the mix is just a natural progression. Younger generations have also grown up in a world dominated by ads desperate to influence their purchasing decisions and so are more likely to turn to social commerce where they can control their purchasing decisions. We think it’s safe to say that there is no need to be concerned about the future of social commerce dwindling in the West.
Predictions for the future of social commerce
There are a plethora of indicators suggesting that social commerce will become a marketing staple as we head into 2023.
Brands will become strategic
When retail shut down due to Covid, the only option given to consumers was to shop from afar. Marketers were forced to scrutinise where to spend wisely and the level of complexity in influencer marketing, which should’ve taken a decade to develop, unfolded in just one year.
As a result, influencer marketing has gone from being left on the back burner, to star of the show.
The future of social commerce will see brands doubling down on the influencer marketing campaigns that work and strategically increase their share in the marketing mix.
Social media platforms will become the new QVC
And if you’re not sure what QVC is, then you most certainly are the demographic contributing to this prediction…
Influencers are the new storefront.
Social commerce is no longer just about adding a shopping cart to a platform, but more so to do with the entire shopping experience; that which influencers can easily conduct through shopping live streams. More and more brands will begin to add live shopping features to their platforms, and the most advanced of them will invest more budget and resources towards creating more authentic retail experiences.
Influencers will make more money off-platform
As Instagram changed its algorithm to favour TikTok-like content, Instagram loyalists wondered why their engagement numbers dropped and why they were fuelling a platform that no longer served them.
On top of this, BIPOC creators continued to experience discrimination through shadow bans and empty promises from brands who said they’d “do better”. This lead to more BIPOC creators to abandon the Instagram ship.
These tensions between creators, brands, and platforms are leading to a platform-agnostic future, leading to followers subscribing or paying for content directly with influences and creators.
Consumer attention will migrate away from ad-supported platforms and turn to paywalled content, so brands will need to divert advertising budget towards long-term influencer partnerships divorced from a specific platform. We’ve seen that audiences will follow their favourite creators wherever they go. The medium is not the message. The creator is.
Influencer marketing campaigns will need to deliver on direct sales
As measurement tools improve, and the future of social commerce increases direct sales, brand and ecommerce teams will need to set specific sales KPIs for influencer campaigns. An advancement in technology has led to an improvement in affiliate/referral tracking, which can pinpoint exactly which influencers and campaigns are converting to sales.
The future of social commerce
The future of social commerce is looking bright.
While the West is still quite a way off of catching up to their Chinese counterpart, more and more brands are eager to deploy social commerce strategies.
With the right ROI framework, brand creative and analytics in place, social will be the channel that unlocks more performance than companies could ever imagine.
How fast is social commerce growing?
Forbes has coined social commerce as the “next global shopping revolution”, as the industry is set to climb from $492 billion in 2021 to $1.2 trillion in 2025.
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