The Social Effect of Commerce

September 4, 2015

Takeaways

When shoppers are on a retailer’s social pages ready to buy, they’re often sent elsewhere, and this is disruptive.

With millions of people getting social on their mobile devices, countless numbers of consumers are connected at all hours of the day ready to buy.

But all too often the social commerce experience falls short. For example, when shoppers are on a retailer’s social pages ready to buy, they’re often sent elsewhere to complete the transaction, disrupting what should be a seamless experience.  At a time when every efficiency and experience are critical, this distraction misses the mark on how quickly a customer can complete a purchase. 

The challenge for brands is to relate authentically to consumers, which means a heavier reliance on eye-catching visuals, content that informs and entertains the viewer, and behind-the-scenes accounts that humanize the brand.  For example, we see from the ingenuity of brands using Vine to post how-to videos, announce new products, or make a video punchline that it’s possible to be a “friend” first, and brand second. But this cannot come at the expense of the customer's shopping experience.

Brands must enable and sustain conversations with consumers across all channels—social and otherwise—establishing the mutually rewarding relationships that drive what is known as social commerce -- the evolution and maturation of social media meets shopping. With a growing number of consumers recommending and researching purchases online, especially on social media, it’s no surprise that marketers are following their customers to support the purchase process.   

But how can brands succeed? 

Social commerce is all about inspiration and product discovery. Leaders in the social commerce space seek to understand how their brands can add value at different stages of the retail and e-commerce process. It’s about enveloping the shopper in an experience and to do so, these brands are building social networks around e-commerce platforms and partnering with brands.

Shopping is inherently social and interactive. Companies need to see social commerce as integral to the way in which they communicate and transact with consumers. This means

acknowledging social’s role at each stage of the buying process so shoppers can move rapidly (and entirely digitally) from awareness to recommendation to purchase.

Understanding the shopping experience also needs to include the role of brick and mortar stores.  It can often coincide — in-store, for example, where social platforms can be used to educate shoppers and close transactions. Another key objective should also be to increase social connections between potential customers and those within their networks who are naturally inclined to recommend specific products.  It’s clear that this innovative form of contextual and behavioral targeting is gaining traction, and that the benefits of making an emotional connection are starting to shine brighter. 

According to The University of Texas, people don't make their decisions based on rational reasoning. Decisions heavily rely on what product appeals to their senses and emotions. The earlier brands make the emo

tional connection with consumers the better, because once consumers have decided they like a particular option, the more difficult it is for them to backpedal. Their thinking falls in line with the emotions.

As revenues for the social commerce market are expected to reach $30 billion this year alone, the number of consumers are still up for grabs, but not for long.   

Many leading businesses are starting to “get” the rules of the game — with the frontrunners increasing their investments in social platforms and social design so they can manage consumer interactions across all communication channels.  

Designing a platform with a prime directive to be FOR social, FOR mobile and FOR marketing will bring more rewarding experiencing for consumers and brands alike.  

These advancements are only the beginning-- with social channels looking to take the next step by offering streamlined, in-app purchasing systems.  This means an even faster, more familiar connection between consumers and products. 

Businesses must get social or risk missing out on the conversation entirely.

 

Lisa Seacat DeLuca is a Master Inventor for IBM Commerce.