Most purchase journeys have too many unnecessary steps in the conversion funnel.
Each one massively increases the chance your potential customers are going to abandon their purchase and leave your store forever.
The problem lies in modern merchants’ reliance on software and tech solutions.
We’re all too concerned with gamifying the process and making sales through cheap tactics instead of solving genuine consumer problems.
We’re overthinking things.
Because the truth is, you only need two things to create a successful online business.
A product that genuinely helps people solve a problem.
A streamlined purchase journey. One that makes it easy to buy and that begins where the customer is most active and engaged.
You’ll have to find the first on your own.
But for the second, you have to stop looking at things like gamification and low value offers that push the purchase.
You have to examine how you can use technology to create a better customer experience.
Which is what the smartest ecommerce brands in the world are doing with social commerce.
It makes complete sense if you take a second to think about your customers and their actions.
There are1.47 billion daily active users on Facebook alone.
60% of Instagram users say they find new products on Instagram (so it makes complete sense to also sell them on the platform).
Social Media Messenger sales are massively outperforming the current ROI champion of email.
Your audience is on these social media platforms and they want to purchase through those networks.
So why complicate matters with extra steps that require gamification for even paltry conversions?
The smarter option would be to implement a social commerce solution that engages users where they are and turns their social media engagement directly into sales.
I’ll get into the details of exactly how you can leverage social commerce to increase your brand’s revenue, but first, let’s head back-to-basics.
What Is Social Commerce?
Social commerce sells products directly through social media networks.
It differs from social media marketing as you’re not redirecting users to an online store, but offering them the ability to checkout directly within the network they’re using at that moment.
It’s far more streamlined and, thanks to chatbot checkouts and autofill for payment and delivery details, means purchases rarely take more than a handful of clicks.
The social commerce purchase journey massively outperforms the purchase journey you’re familiar with.
But social commerce is more than a string of popular buzzwords.
It’s an easier way for people to complete the purchase of products they want and need.
Most ecommerce purchase journeys are too complex relying on redirects from one platform to another (some platforms requiring multiple steps themselves).
But with social commerce, you’re effectively implementing Amazon’s one-click buy now button on multiple, popular social media networks.
At its core, it’s about making it easy for users to complete their purchase.
It’s about removing the potential for confusion and thus abandonment.
It is, in my mind, about capitalizing on the point when a user’s purchase intent and excitement about your product is highest.
And it’s hardly anything new, the concept of social commerce has been around for some time now.
The History of Social Commerce
Social commerce is the latest digital marketing buzzword.
However, it’s not a new concept. It’s been tested and refined for quite a while by most of the large social networks.
Here’s a little history lesson by social network.
Facebook Social Commerce:
Facebook is, without a doubt, the big dog.
With over 2.2 billion monthly active users there’s a huge potential audience to leverage.
And as the biggest player, you’d be right to think they’ve ventured into social selling multiple times.
Feb 2007: Facebook does a virtual gift test which leads to the ability to buy gifts for friends. Gifts were limited to being used and displayed on the network though.
May 2007: Facebook marketplace opens allowing you to sell items to those within your network.
July 2009: 1-800-Flowers.com starts selling through Facebook leading to other brands setting up Facebook stores (Pampers, Disney).
July 2014: Facebook tests the buy button, allowing brands to sell to people without them leaving Facebook.
March 2015: Facebook rolls out payments through Messenger (however, it’s just for splitting payments with friends).
July 2015: Facebook implements the first test for shoppable pages.
Summer 2018: Facebook launches Facebook Marketplace, a competitor to Amazon, Etsy and Google Shopping.
Those are the major developments with Facebook’s Social Commerce efforts.
There have been a couple more in more recent history, but I’ll get onto them shortly.
For now, let’s look at Instagram.
Instagram Social Commerce:
Instagram is one of the most promising platforms when it comes to creating a social selling strategy.
Personally, I think it has the most potential.
People flock to the platform to look at beautiful images and videos.
If you can make your product the feature of those media offerings, you could see some killer engagement.
If you can turn that engagement into quick and easy sales (say…through social shopping), you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Whilst a younger network than Facebook and one without as many social selling experiments, there’s still been a decent effort to create a social shopping experience through the platform.
June 2015: Instagram Shop Now button introduced. Taking a leaf out the Facebook playbook, Instagram adds a buy now button for brands.
November 2016: Instagram implements product tags so users can quickly identify the products they see in ads and their price (rolled out to a limited number of brands).
March 2018: Instagram’s Shoppable Posts go live giving brands the ability to tag items in organic posts which, when tapped, brings up a new page which leads to a checkout.
Twitter Social Commerce:
Twitter’s a peculiar company.
Until Q4 2017 they’d never made a profit.
With a lack of revenue, you’d think they’d jump head first into the world of social commerce, but they’ve been dragging their heels a little.
When they have taken action, they’ve not waited long before pivoting their social selling strategy and focused more on Twitter ads.
Here’s how their forays into online shopping breaks down.
April 2010: Twitter offers their first feature that could help ecommerce brands – the sponsored Tweet. This would later grow into a suite of paid ads.
September 2014: Twitter introduces the buy now button allowing the sale of certain items directly from Tweets.
January 2017: After expanding the buy now button partnerships, Twitter eventually decides it’s a pointless endeavor and fades out the feature until it no longer exists.
Pinterest Social Commerce:
Pinterest is very much like Instagram in that it’s filled with content that is, first and foremost, visually appealing.
That means showcasing your products with awesome images should help you get some decent reach.
And with the right tools, you could see that engagement turn into sales, especially considering 80% of Pins on Pinterest aren’t actually original content but repins.
June 2015: Pinterest offers their original version of buyable pins allowing a select few brands to add a buy button to their pins.
March 2016: Pinterestincreased the partnerships for buyable pins making it available to even more brands.
June 2016: A shopping cart was added to make it easier for shoppers to buy multiple products from different suppliers in one go.
The Current State of Social Commerce
So that brief breakdown of the different social channels and how they’ve experimented with social commerce brings us up to the modern era.
Social commerce is often talked about as the future of digital sales, yet none of the major networks have nailed the best way of making it work on their platform.
Twitter had so much trouble they even gave it up.
Right now, you’ve only got Facebook’s shoppable pages, Instagram’s buy now button, or Pinterest’s buyable pins.
It’s hardly the mainstream sales channel it was tipped to be.
But with each iteration and test, it becomes more mainstream
With each test, we get closer to seeing social commerce take over as one of the largest drivers of revenue for online commerce.
The problem lies with the big networks.
They’re all limited to their own platform and even in that sense they’re not, being completely honest, pulling their weight.
If you check any major success stories for social commerce they’re using third-party solutions.
They’re leveraging tools like ManyChat with click to Messenger ads to generate 11,000 new leads.
Brands like Marvel are using tools like jumper.ai for automated chatbot checkouts to sell tickets direct from organic and paid social media posts.
There’s plenty of case studies out there on using social commerce and chatbots to create incredibly streamlined purchase journeys for users.
But very few use the native solutions provided by the big networks.
Which is really strange, because not only are retailers seeing some incredible results, but your customers are telling you that this is what they want to see more of.
23% of shoppers are influenced by social media recommendations (so why not sell straight from that recommendation).
51% of millennials (who will soon be the major buying market) are likely to make a purchase over social media.
84% of shoppers review at least one social media site before purchasing (so it makes sense to sell where they’re going to research).
It might be young, but as the tools become more sophisticated more people are turning to social media to not only research, but also purchase their products.
If I were a betting man, I’d put a sizeable stake on social commerce becoming one of the primary channels in the next decade.
Why am I so confident in this prediction?
What does the Future Hold for Social Commerce?
There’s one primary reason why I’m so confident that social commerce will take over the world.
In the West, it’s easy to focus on the US and European markets.