Client experience revolution through social shopping
2020 was marked by a brutal transformation of the customer experience linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Faced with the closure of many businesses and successive lockdowns, few possibilities were available to retailers. Therefore, e-Commerce presented itself as the only gateway for consumers. At the same time, the use of social media has increased as well.
This twofold observation is echoed in the bringing together of consumer/seller uses; for consumers, the use of social networks is becoming a new way to shop and for sellers, they become a universal and instant sales display.
What is “social shopping, and what are its issues?
Social shopping, or social commerce, refers to the use of social networks for the purpose of sales development. This is a widely adopted practice in certain markets (United States, China, etc.). For example, 52.1% of global e-commerce comes from China. In order to respond to these new ways of consumption, social networks such as Facebook and Instagram have been integrating purchasing possibilities into their applications since May 2020.
The phenomenon of online sales via social networks has existed since 2012. This is particularly the case of the La Redoute online shop which includes a chat tool linked to Facebook, allowing consumers to communicate directly with their friends on the website. Social shopping offers sellers the opportunity to personalize their approaches and offers to suit consumers. In Europe 93% of this is currently concentrated on the most well-known social networks: Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
However, new platforms are positioning themselves on social shopping too, such as Snapchat, TikTok and Pinterest. These applications are part of the daily life of a very large number of users, and they have the capacity to trigger purchasing behavior favored by immediacy and a rapport with the image. Therefore, their importance continues to grow. We then speak of social proof heuristics: influencers become trends and consumers prescribers. The synergy between social shopping and influencers increases sales while perfectly meeting new consumer expectations.
Social shopping: simple fad or profound transformation of habits?
Social shopping makes it easier for brands to take ownership of hyper-personalization and its benefits, including better customer capture and loyalty. The seller can tell a story around the experience to maximize the appeal of the product. The same product, described in several ways, then addresses unique audiences with specific expectations. The sales potential is therefore greater than an experience offered by the same product in a window display. Through social media, retailers acquire the ability to speak to each individual. For consumers, social shopping provides easy access from their smartphone to an almost endless catalog of products. It also provides a faster, more concrete visualization without the brand filter.
One of the consequences of social shopping however is greater transparency around products; this is generated by the immediacy of social networks, especially through consumer comments. For brands, this means more clarity, but also more accessible communication with a possible penalty of immediate sanctions (boycott, etc.).
A consumption phenomenon, driven by competitive innovation
Social shopping, a true phenomenon of real-time consumption, presents us with two major innovation trends:
It connects advertising on social networks to an extension of its e-commerce platform, so the consumer journey is frictionless and seamless. This way of advertising allows for a maximized customer experience. For example, the success of the Squid Game series has led to a strong promotion of linked products on social networks, such as items of clothing. Vans saw sales of its "Vans Slip-On White" shoes increase by 7800% and related searches by 92%.
This is a kind of "online teleshopping". It allows users to buy products that are presented to them on platforms (Facebook Live, Live Instagram); direct and ordered at the click of a button. For instance, Clarins has recorded conversion rates of up to 30% using this particular technology in the United States and Canada.
Originality is key
In addition to the technological challenges posed by the integration of a social shopping strategy, competition between brands is intensifying. Brands must stand out in their communication and their search for originality. The advertising costs associated with the distribution of products continue to increase, which led to a 50.3% increase in advertising investments worldwide compared to the end of 2019.
Brands must meet different expectations depending on the country and cultural references of their consumers, but also their age, gender, standard of living, etc. This segmentation of audiences contributes to the difficulty of offering a single way to explore social shopping and therefore an explosion in the associated costs.
Hence, the future lies in an even more personalized approach and advertisements that know your size, your favorite colors, and the brands you like so these can influence your news feed even more. Thus, shopping and even trying out products (via AR) will be seamlessly integrated into your life.
But how will social shopping evolve going forward? Maybe one day, by agreeing to give brands a “shopping budget”, we will receive products selected by brands according to our preferences on social networks?