Social media’s influence on public opinion continues to grow as more people get online, eager to share their views. Business owners know that product reviews on social media channels, can greatly influence buyer behavior. Using social media as a marketing channel is a creative way to generate leads. However, social media is now starting to be used in a completely different way. Social commerce –the purchase of goods takes place within the social networking site itself.
Here are some of the social commerce initiatives by various platforms:
|Social Media Platform||Social Commerce initiative|
|Facebook has been experimenting with a ‘Buy’ button, which allows its users to purchase goods featured in ads or posts within their newsfeed. They’ve partnered with Stripe, a payments processing provider, to enable purchases to be completed within the site or mobile app using the ‘Buy’ button, thus allowing it to monetize some of its user base.|
Twitter has also partnered with Stripe to enable its users to buy certain products from within their Twitter feed by clicking a ‘Buy’ button appearing alongside an image of the item for sale. Last December, Old Navy tested Twitter’s “Buy now” button with an offer for limited-edition blankets while AMC used the button to offer $30 gift cards to its theaters.
Amazon, the eCommerce giant has creatively partnered with Twitter to allow shoppers to add items to their Amazon shopping cart responding to the tweet with the hashtag #AmazonCart.
|Pinterest is working on launching functionality that would allow users to order and pay for some of the products on the site without leaving. With Pinterest’s 70 million monthly visitors using the service currently to share and save images of things they are interested in, there’s huge potential in converting them into buyers.|
|Instagram is using Curalate’s Like2Buy platform, allowing users to purchase from its gallery of product images. Users can click on the Like2Buy link in the bio section, which leads the user to the brand’s Instagram feed from which the user can select any of the photos, and within two clicks arrive at a landing page for a specific product.|
Social commerce is expected to grow to $14 billion in 2015 and constitute 5% of all online sales. As mobile usage increases, this number is only expected to grow larger. Placing a “Buy” button on a post reduces the number of steps customers have to take to complete a transaction and reduces the chances of changing their minds. The efficacy of advertising campaigns can be determined immediately and campaigns can be adapted to a user’s actions. The “Buy” buttons could help small to medium businesses if they already have a way of sharing content from their product pages back to the social site.
Forrester Research predicts that U.S. companies will spend almost twice as much on eCommerce software in 2019 as they did in 2014, with B2B companies such as manufacturers and wholesalers accounting for a large part of that increase. Separately, Amazon recently launched its new and improved B2B marketplace, Amazon Business (replacing AmazonSupply), with new features and benefits and a massively increased product selection.
Social commerce is still evolving in the B2C world and may take some time to take hold. With social media shopping on the rise even before the Buy button functionality was introduced, 2015 may be the year when social commerce makes an impact via direct sales from social channels. With B2B following the trends of B2C, social commerce seems inevitable.