Is social media the next e-commerce frontier?

AVASK Marketing Business News, E-commerce News

Social media and e-commerce are becoming more intertwined than ever before, with most platforms now offering some form of e-commerce integration. It is easy to see why these two industries have come together so harmoniously, as well as the payoff that many e-commerce entrepreneurs are experiencing as a result. According to data from a recent survey, “30% of online buyers say they would purchase directly from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat.”

But for a seller who has primarily sold on an e-commerce marketplace like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, traversing into the social media e-commerce spotlight can be somewhat daunting, right down to just knowing what is available.

What are the social media platforms offering?

Facebook Shops

With its incredible market saturation and highly refined ad targeting system, Facebook is a natural platform for e-commerce. Businesses can create a Facebook Shop for free. By uploading a catalogue, choosing which items to feature, and even personalising their digital shopfront, they can create spaces on Facebook for customers to browse, save, or order products.

It also pairs well with other platforms that Facebook owns, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, allowing sellers to create entire e-commerce ecosystems where customers are never more than a few clicks away from converting.

Instagram Shops

This highly visual social media platform has always attracted e-commerce entrepreneurs and shoppers alike. According to data from Yotpo, about 30% of users have purchased something they saw on Instagram. And Instagram Shops help to remove friction from the purchasing process by allowing sellers to integrate their catalogues seamlessly Products can then be promoted directly to users through posts, Stories, and a Shop tab on their profiles. Customers can even make a payment without leaving Instagram.

This particular platform takes things a step further with AR functionality. This feature allows users access to virtual try-ons and product visualisations. Combined with the Instagram Checkout system, this platform can incentivise customers into making more purchases.

WhatsApp Shops

WhatsApp already feature a catalogue system, much like Instagram and Facebook. They recently added a shopping cart feature, allowing users to order multiple items with a single message. While browsing a business’ catalogue, users can add items to a shopping cart and send the order directly to the business. This in turn increases the opportunities for e-commerce entrepreneurs to maximise their selling potential via this platform.

TikTok + Shopify

TikTok’s partnership with Shopify now includes a feature for Shopify merchants with a TikTok for Business account. E-sellers will be able to create mini-storefronts on their profile by adding a “Shopping” tab to their profiles and syncing their product catalogues.

Shopify sellers can also access product links, to enable product tagging in TikTok videos. With this feature, users can click on tagged products to be taken to the merchant’s storefront for checkout.

SnapChat’s ‘The Drop’

This original series, produced in conjunction with NTWRK, puts a new spin on the QVC format of shoppable video content. Each episode features a celebrity talking about an exclusive item, which then goes on sale in a very limited quantity during the broadcast. To date, every product featured on the show has sold out. While this is not something that is currently accessible to every seller, it does paint a clear picture of what could be over the next horizon.

Twitter Shop Profiles

Finally, Twitter is re-investing in its e-commerce strategy with a new “Shop Module” that allows sellers to showcase their products to Twitter users directly from a Professional Profile. Professional Profiles, which began testing earlier this year, are the Twitter equivalent to a Facebook Page for a business.

The module offers product image carousels, which users can then tap on to view the business’ website within the Twitter app. From there, customers can learn more about the product and order it.

The effect of social media e-commerce on your business:

Upon its inception, social media revolutionised the way that people communicate, and it has become an engrained within our communities as ‘the’ way to stay up to date with friends and families, news and current affairs, and perhaps more importantly, new trends and influences.

The fact that social media platforms are enabling e-commerce entrepreneurs to continue selling their goods, shows that once again social media is looking to revolutionise consumer shopping patterns and behaviours.

With so many options available through social media, it is important to research where your target audience spends their time. Focus on those platforms that will net the most ROI and then scale-up to the remaining platforms to meet demand once you have established a firm presence.

When planning to sell your products on social media, be sure to include a well-planned advertising budget. Conduct competitor research and find out what is working for other sellers. Plan your keywords and be ready to alter your plans week-on-week to refine and continue targeting your audience. Above all, if something is not working, then stop doing it.

Always remember that when selling on different online platforms, you may incur new tax liabilities. Make sure you know where your tax liability stands, and this can depend on where you are fulfilling your orders from and which country you are sending your goods to. We would always recommend seeking the advice of an e-commerce indirect tax expert, such as AVASK before expanding into new marketplaces.

If you have any questions or concerns about selling through social media platforms, get in Contact with a member of the AVASK team. Our specialist team of e-commerce experts will be able to assist with a range of E-commerce Growth Advisory Services.