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Will 2019 be the year of social commerce?

11/01/2019

In China, 70% of Gen Z’ers now buy directly on social platforms. This means they don’t leave the app to place an order in their favourite online stores. New features like shoppable Instagram and Pinterest posts make it easier than ever before for consumers to purchase an item in just a few clicks. What’s more, all the established social platforms are still growing rapidly. Facebook Marketplace for example is now used in 70 countries worldwide by more than 800 million people.

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More shopping features

Whereas social media channels were always seen as the ideal way to inspire and engage the target audience, they are now more than ever evolving towards being a real sales booster thanks to the introduction of new features. With Instagram posts, Stories and pins on Pinterest now being shoppable, social media are taking social commerce to a whole new level. Consumers can see product details and buy the product in just one or two clicks.

Charlot Verdonck, Social Media Manager at Online Heroes, explains: “Although we don’t believe those shoppable posts will ever replace the webstore as a whole, it definitely should be part of your omnichannel strategy to be there where your consumer in order to improve your sales performance.”

More storytelling

In the era of traditional media, brands wanted to scream as loudly as possible to gain customers’ attention. Nowadays, being authentic, telling a credible story and engaging with your audience are what’s driving marketing, and especially social media marketing. Charlot Verdonck states: “With the new social shopping features, it is important to find the right content balance between driving sales versus creating inspiring content. Consumers should still feel the need to engage with your authentic story & content. A brand that I admire for their authenticity is Everlane. Transparency is not only part of their brand identity, they also communicate in a transparent and genuine way.” Two great ways they do this is by showing exactly where the clothes come from and what they are made of (e.g. “Made from 60 renewed plastic bottles”) and their annual Choose What You Pay event, where Everlane lets customers choose what they pay for their garment.

Nowadays, being authentic, telling a credible story and engaging with your audience are what’s driving marketing, and especially social media marketing.

More authentic ambassadors

Partnering with influencers is not new. Online retailer ASOS is one of those good examples who already set up a successful influencer marketing campaign creating brand handles like @asos_ebony and @asos_jana and a shoppable insider hub on their website. The newest trend in influencer marketing is launching own branded influencer accounts featuring corporate employees. Since August, people can see what Boohoo’s buying assistants and visual merchandizers are wearing on their own accounts called @boohoo.kerry or @boohoo.fabienne. What’s more, the launch of Macy’s Style Crew, a shoppable style guide featuring corporate employees and Kate Spade’s Talking Shop series on YouTube starring their New York City visual manager and regional director, indicate fashion retailers are testing new methods using social media to create authentic content matching their brand image.

More streamlined customer service

As consumers turn to social shopping, their expectations for customer service also rise. The top messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp have nearly 5 billion monthly active users, from which 90% would like to communicate with brands using those apps. Charlot Verdonck: “When someone sees a product he or she likes on their Instagram feed, it should be made easy for them to ask questions about the size, colour, availability. Answering those questions is part of community management.” More and more brands are setting up bots for frequently asked questions. Although this can be quite effective, making sure the customer experience stays memorable, warm and welcoming is key.

In short, 2019 will without a doubt be the year social media will continue to rise and evolve. Although these channels certainly can’t replace an ecommerce site, making it part of your omnichannel strategy is the way to go. Social media is changing the way we communicate, get inspired and shop, so make sure your brand doesn’t miss out on social in 2019.

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