Why eCommerce and social commerce should work together in 2022

May 13, 2024
Emmy Liederman
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The pandemic boosted the use of social media and online shopping: people were stuck at home and spent a lot of time endlessly scrolling. Along with that, social commerce exploded, too. 

Quick definition: Social commerce is when brands let customers complete their online purchases using social media platforms instead of only offering purchases via an ecommerce website. Social commerce grew so much that eMarketer nearly doubled its original 2020 forecast for social commerce growth: bumping it from 19.8% up to 37.9%. 

So how exactly can brands adapt to this shift in behavior? By integrating their existing ecommerce operations with social commerce.

Social commerce: The beginning

The goal of social commerce is to provide a platform for shoppers where the journey from product discovery to checkout isn’t a hassle; with a few taps they can go from browsing social feeds to a completed purchase.

It also presents a simple solution to the problem of product discovery. Online stores with large catalogs can be a lot for shoppers to sift through, but with the context of an image on Instagram paired with the social proof of an influencer’s stamp of approval, the entire process speeds up and simplifies. 

Social commerce efforts seem to be working: 76% of consumers have purchased a product seen within a social media post. And brands are seeing social commerce pay off, too. 

Noelle Salder, CMO of clothing brand Lulus.com said this on the Instagram blog: “The development of a native and authentic shopping experience on [Instagram] has taken discovery to the next level for customers. And it has opened a great deal of opportunity for us to engage new and existing customers; we have seen that nearly 33% of people who tap to learn more about a product visit our site through 'Shop Now'.”

Why social commerce is on the rise

As more brands take note of social commerce, this new form of online shopping is on the rise. And not just for the convenience factor. Other factors contributing to its growth include:

  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: For almost two years now, people have been working from home. In the absence of social gatherings, they turned to social media to keep in touch with their friends and relatives. As many already spend around 15% of their waking hours on social media, the ability to shop on these same platforms comes as an added bonus. 
  • The rise of influencers: Stay-at-home orders led to a shift in the traditional creative production—45% of advertisers had to pause their ad campaigns. To reach their audiences without traditional advertisements, brands turned to social media influencers who could still create content remotely. It was a smart move: Research shows the trust audiences have in their favorite creators: 89% of people trust ‌recommendations from their favorite YouTube creators more than branded ads.
  • Social media normalizing as a purchasing medium: Shoppers are now getting more comfortable with using social media as a place to shop directly. More Than 50% of US special media users ages 18-24 have made a purchase through a social channel. 
“Social Media and ecommerce channels were historically siloed. As it matured, social media became more commerce-focused, and ecommerce has started to integrate more social content. For example, several years ago many brands started to implement shoppable Instagram pages, and today, more are creating 'as seen on TikTok' landing pages. Social media has always played an important role in any commerce experience because word-of-mouth marketing has always been crucial to the customer journey. Now, social commerce is more measurable and scalable than ever before.”-Kyle Wong, co-founder of Pixlee

Online word-of-mouth: Where social commerce shines

Trust is an important factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions, and word-of-mouth social proof (like reviews, ratings, and user-generated content) all help build it. But establishing that trust can be difficult when you’re running an ecommerce site where you can’t interact with your customers directly. 

This is where social commerce steps in. Collecting social proof is easier when your audience can engage with your brand without hurdles. Sandie Hawkins, General Manager of TikTok for North America, sums this up in a single sentence: “Social commerce is word of mouth on steroids.” 

Not only that, there’s influencer marketing on the table as well. Influencers spend years building trust with their audience. By working with creators who have loyal followings, brands can leverage that existing trust and partner with trusted sources of information when promoting their products.

It’s cost-effective, too: Influencer marketing generates an average ROI of $5.78 for every dollar spent. For example, Away, a luxury luggage brand, collaborated with a number of influencers to target their ideal customers on social media, showing their products in use. The campaign ended with an overall engagement rate of 5.22% and over 58,000 likes.

The good news: Influencer marketing isn't just limited to brands with huge marketing budgets. 

With micro-influencers ( <15,000 followers) on the rise, even brands with lower marketing budgets can take advantage of this lucrative marketing method. In fact, micro-influencers often have better engagement rates than mega influencers ( >1 million followers). 

Other reasons to leverage ecommerce and social commerce

Why else should brands be leaning into social commerce in 2022?

1. Access to first-party data

Social commerce gives brands greater access to first-party data, which is the customer information you collect directly from your customers through their website visits, purchases, or social media interactions. You can gather first-party data via influencer marketing campaigns, quizzes, email marketing campaigns, or use social media features like Q&As and Live videos to understand customers better.

Why is first-party data so important in 2022? Privacy is a rising concern, and third-party websites like Google and Facebook are trying their best to protect it. The iOS15 update has already been rolled out and Google’s data privacy update is around the corner as well. 

2. Generation of social proof and user-generated content

Social proof and user-generated content (UGC) create trust and credibility—both of which are fundamental to online sales and brand loyalty. 

Social media platforms are where this happens—the number of likes, comments, shares, and followers contribute to your brand's perceived value. Not only that, your content, when shared by your audience, also attracts potential customers. In fact, almost 50% of customers claim that UGC is a great way for them to discover new products.

You can also feature the same UGC on your product pages and landing pages—83% of consumers believe that user-generated content on a landing page builds trust with the brand. 

Take, for example, Headphone Zone. They add YouTube product reviews on product pages to help ‌customers make purchase decisions. Usually, these reviews are taken from well-established accounts, adding to the credibility of the product.

3. Creation of an interactive shopping experience 

While online shopping saves time and is convenient, it’s often missing that interactive human element that comes from shopping in-person. Social media platforms have all the features you need to bring back those missing elements—like livestreams, videos, and real-time chat. 

Interactive shopping experiences like live selling allow brands to replicate the QVC experience for customers. They can interact with their favorite brands and receive answers. Plus, the need for personalization is met with live selling. 

Brands have already started seeing the results with it. For example, Outer, an outdoor furniture brand, saw a whopping 10x return on investment with YouTube Live. 90% of viewers stayed with them through a one-hour live show, which is extremely impressive considering the decreasing attention span of consumers. Their most popular livestream had over 65,000 views.

So what can we take from all of this?

Opportunities abound when it comes to leveraging social media as an online sales tool.

Social commerce and ecommerce: Room to grow

The integration of social commerce and ecommerce gives you a better understanding of your ideal customers, increases your distribution channels, and creates a magnetic brand. It’s not the question of ecommerce or social commerce—it’s just commerce. 

The question now is: when will you integrate the two to give your customers the best possible shopping experience? 

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