Social commerce: e-commerce with social media

Woman with tablet

Woman with tablet

E-commerce Social commerce: e-commerce with social media

Published on 06.09.22 by Simon Flück, Digital Marketer, Atelier GoLive GmbH

In recent years, social commerce as an additional sales method has increased in popularity. This is because, since the start of the coronavirus crisis, sales via social media channels have been booming, just like the e-commerce sector as a whole. Revenue has increased for nine out of ten online shops.

Social commerce helps companies get a step closer to its customer base. Also, it offers enormous reach and an additional sales channel.

What does social commerce mean?

With social commerce (social shopping), products and services are sold via social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. It's a sub-section of e-commerce (electronic retail). Social commerce forms the intersection between social media marketing and e-commerce.

In social commerce, the purchasing process is completed directly on the social media platform, rather than through redirection to a company’s online shop. The latter tends to be more the case in Europe at the moment. Currently, direct checkout through social media is usually only available in the USA.

An additional component of social commerce or social shopping is interaction with the potential customer base. This can include ratings, reviews, recommendations, comparisons, search functions and inspiration, as well as involvement in the creation of products.

Potential of social commerce

Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the e-commerce sector has grown vigorously. According to the Online Retailer Survey 2021, nine out of ten online shops have enjoyed growth. This has also had a positive effect on social commerce.

Currently, 46% of all online retailers surveyed in the Social Commerce Report 2021 (in German) rely on sales using social media. Meta’s Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping are used particularly frequently. For many retailers, the reach and additional sales channel using social commerce were deciding factors.

7 social media platforms for social commerce

Smartphone with social media apps
Social media platforms for social commerce (Image source: Pixabay and screenshot from own phone)

Facebook Shops

Facebook Shops allows all products to be entered and synchronized automatically using a feed. It’s especially easy when the online shop has been created using Shopify or WooCommerce. The resulting product catalogue can be tailored to individuals, and product categories (collections) can be set up.

Instagram Shopping

For Instagram Shopping, the products and catalogue from Facebook Shops can be used. So there’s no need to enter products again. As with Facebook, products can be tagged in the images and videos in posts, stories, reels and live streaming. This format with product tagging is known as a shoppable post or shoppable ad.

Pinterest Shopping

Pinterest Shopping allows you to upload and synchronize products quickly from Shopify or WooCommerce. If products are uploaded to Pinterest by feed, the product pins are generated automatically. The pins can then be assigned to the pin boards for the different target groups or product segments.

Pinterest is a comprehensive catalogue and a search engine for products and inspiration. On Pinterest, users can put together an online pin board with the pins they find to suit their own interest and needs. For this reason, Pinterest has long been a component of social commerce.

Snapchat Shopping

For social commerce, Snapchat relies on augmented reality and live shopping. In AR Shopping on Snapchat, products are brought to life via the smartphone display or by using AR glasses. Snapchat from the company Snap calls this format Shopping Lens. It enables items like glasses, clothing, make-up and furniture to be tried out virtually in real surroundings.

On Snapchat, companies can list their products for augmented reality shopping in a catalogue. Find out more about Augmented Reality in e-commerce here: 17 e-commerce trends 2022 – Augmented Reality (in German).

Snapchat also relies on Live Shopping. Here, showcased products can be viewed and ordered immediately.

TikTok Shop

TikTok is currently one of the hottest eCommerce trends of 2022 – no social commerce strategy should be without it! TikTok Shop allows you to present products in a catalogue. The TikTok community can then access them directly via in-feed videos, live shopping and a tab for product presentations placed prominently on profile pages.

Currently, TikTok Shop is only available in the USA, Canada and the UK.

Twitter Shops

Twitter Shops is still in its early stages and is currently only available in the USA. Nevertheless, Twitter can be used as an accompaniment to social commerce for image and awareness promotion. Another option with Twitter is to publish the link to your company’s online shop to generate traffic.

YouTube Shopping

YouTube Shopping allows authorized creators to easily present and advertise products from their own shop on YouTube. Products can be listed in the closing credits of videos or can be tagged in videos and live streams (YouTube Live). Products can also be pinned in LiveChat. Checkout then takes place in the company’s own online shop.

Social commerce summary

Online retailers should certainly run some tests to see whether selling via social media channels is worthwhile. After all, publishing products in a catalogue or a blog post is free of charge. It also offers the opportunity of achieving greater reach and awareness.

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