Social commerce sparks shopping revolution

20. March 2023, MAXFIVE

How barriers are overcome and purchases are made even faster and easier.


e commerce
social commerce

Now that people have long since ceased to wonder whether someone has bought something based on a Facebook or Insta recommendation, the question is now how often they do so. And this is exactly where the new trend of social commerce enters the picture. Right at the point where people are most often found: on social media.

But first, there’s a few terms that we need to clear up: what is the difference between e-commerce, social media, social commerce, social selling and social shopping?

Social commerce specifics

As the name suggests, social commerce links social media and e-commerce. Instead of merely inspiring users on social networks to go on and make a purchase in their online shop, brands use social commerce to map the entire customer journey within their own social media platform: from the initial moment of attention and crystallising interest, to gathering information during the weighing-up phase and setting purchase incentives through to the actual purchase. And beyond that, customers have access to support, can give feedback and share their experiences with other community members via social media.

Influencers play a particularly important role because they give brands a helping hand with the sales process.

Influencers can integrate products or services into their content and drive the purchase process by providing links. Highly trusted by their followers, they are always on the lookout for the latest trends. So it’s easy to see why influencer marketing is tailor-made for social commerce.

Social shopping trip

ne thing is certain: social commerce is on the rise. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and all the rest of them are already tinkering with various exciting ideas for a new shopping experience.

1. Live shopping (aka live stream shopping)

The principle of live shopping has lots of parallels with teleshopping, a model whereby a presenter introduces products that can be bought during a television broadcast. But live shopping plays out via the company’s own website, apps and social platforms. Merchants like Amazon and Alibaba have also taken steps to integrate the new format. Live shopping formats are also much more interactive, as viewers can actively participate by adding comments, giving likes, taking part in polls and even asking questions in real time. On an engagement level, these interactions strengthen the bond between customers and the company while helping to deepen trust – transforming customers into brand ambassadors into the bargain.

In China, 10% of all online purchases are now made via live video. And the trend has already arrived in Austria and Germany. More and more companies are using the interactive live format,  including established brands such as Otto or BIPA.  BIPA was one of the first companies in Austria to start live shopping , and MAXFIVE was able to support the further development of the live format: For example with setting organization, moderation and live stream. And because the world keeps turning, a new shopping format is already in the works: Online from mid-March.

2. Shopping via direct messages

In future, users will be able to write to companies even more directly with new Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram Direct messaging buttons. Put simply, products are showcased in chats and – ideally – also purchased there, too. As an additional bonus, customers can ask questions and call for assistance.

3. Facebook-Shops

Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops are shopping experiences that are designed primarily for use on mobile devices. Free of charge, the service is a low-barrier way for businesses to set up online shops on Facebook and Instagram. As for stores, the entrepreneur can decide which items to present, share the brand story at the same time and sell the products with just a few clicks, either through in-app solutions or by redirecting them to the website. Oatsome is a great example of how small businesses can use social commerce to their advantage. The German start-up (which sells powdered smoothie bowls for customers to mix at home) has focused on selling on social media from the outset.

4. Curated Shopping

Curated shopping is a concept that supplements the online shopping experience with individual and personal advice. First, customers specify their requirements before being sent a selection of products based on a consultation. Having gained traction in America, the curated shopping trend first came to Europe in 2013. Outfittery, probably a name that most people are familiar with, has long specialised in business-style menswear. The idea behind it all was to spare men from having to go clothes shopping.

Huge global potential of social commerce

It’s impossible to imagine life without social media – Facebook, Instagram and the like are our constant companions. So it was only logical that these platforms would wake up to their potential beyond purely private use: now they are increasingly being used for shopping, with the lines between entertainment and sales continuing to blur. Social commerce offers enormous opportunities particularly as its frontiers are continuously expanding, and work to make it faster and easier to use never stops. A new study published by consulting company Accenture shows that it expects the social commerce industry to grow to USD 1.2 trillion worldwide by 2025. Generations Y and Z will be responsible for 62% of social commerce spending. By 2025, the most frequently purchased items will be clothing (18%), consumer electronics (13%) and home textiles (7%).

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