Earlier this month, eMarketer released a summary of the current state of social commerce, titled the “eMarketer Social Commerce Roundup.” The report provides valuable insight into social commerce today and offers suggestions for marketers looking to stay ahead of the pack. According to eMarketer, over half of U.S. residents will use social networks regularly this year. Americans will spend 830 billion collective minutes on Facebook alone. The question of whether commerce will become social is no longer up for debate. Instead, marketers have begun asking how best to use social media to their advantage. In this blog post, we’ll discuss a few key takeaways from the report in greater depth, providing actionable suggestions along the way.
1. Social Networks Are Not Storefronts, but They Are Still Vitally Important Spaces
As Facebook’s reach has increased exponentially in recent years, marketers have, for the most part, kept up: virtually every major and mid-sized retailer has at least some Facebook presence. So although the data on Facebook’s rise isn’t new, the ways in which brands are putting it to use certainly are. According to the report, only 15% of retailers with Facebook apps had product browsing available in 2013, down more than 75% from the 62% that had it in 2012. Marketers have begun to realize that the true value of social networks lies not in creating social media storefronts, but in connecting consumers across the purchase funnel. Instead, social networks, are being used to drive consumers from discovery, to conversion, to advocacy by giving them a means to interact with brands, products and fellow shoppers. 94% of retailers surveyed in 2013 had installed social sharing buttons on their webpages, and more and more consumers are turning to social feedback to inform purchase decisions. Tip: Give customers opportunities to connect socially with your brand and fellow consumers from within your site or app, such as providing the option to share to their networks directly from your platforms or leave reviews. Engage them on more personal and relevant levels by allowing them to sign-in using their existing social network identities and gaining first-party, permission-based access to their rich social profile data in return.
2. Cross-Channel Commerce is on the Rise
Just as important to the report, and to the market as a whole, is the role of mobile devices in e-commerce. Consumers today rely heavily on digital devices as resources for local shopping: more than half of Hispanics surveyed use a tablet every day to shop for local products and services, and almost 40% of non-Hispanics use a smartphone to do the same. Consumers use their devices to shop and buy directly, but, more importantly, they use them to do research and get recommendations from friends and family on social networks before buying online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to interact with brands on their terms, which means they’re less inclined to respond to email marketing and more likely to seek out brands where and when they want to. Leading brands like Nordstrom are making an increased effort to bridge the gap between these multi-channel user experiences by providing consumers with a seamless and engaging shopping journey from social network to point of sale. Tip: Giving shoppers the option to easily verify their identities using social login makes it easy to tie cross-channel consumer behaviors to a single user profile. This enables you to create more cohesive shopping experiences across devices so that when, for example, a user abandons cart from her phone, you’re able to remind her that it’s waiting for her when she returns via desktop.
3. Top Retailers’ Marketing Strategies are Changing to Fit Consumer Preferences
eMarketer interviewed executives from top retailers such as Wanelo, LivingSocial, and Karmaloop, and found that successful marketers understand social’s changing role in commerce today. From the interviews, we learn how marketers are becoming more aware of specific social preferences, the best ways to use social networks like Snapchat and Vine, and ways to bridge the gap between online and in-store.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is one example of a brand using social connectivity to drive new and repeat shopping cart conversions. Using Gigya’s Social Login, Dick’s Sporting Goods created a highly relevant shopping experience by letting consumers log into and manage their own personal “Gift Lockers” from any device. Consumers can add their favorite items to their lockers by browsing online, taking mobile photos of items in store, or scanning catalogue QR codes, then share these lockers directly with their social networks. To learn more about social commerce and what your brand needs to do to satisfy consumers, download eMarketer’s Social Commerce Roundup here.
By Alex Elron