social shopping

How is social shopping changing in 2020?

There’s a lot of buzz around social shopping right now.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of shopping on social media.

They’re searching for alternative ways to shop for what they want, and they want more personalised shopping experiences. 

How are consumers’ shopping habits adapting?

People who have struggled to shop for what they need during the pandemic have started turning to their networks for solutions. They are using social media and video platforms like Zoom to sell and trade products with each other and to find what they need from small, bespoke and local businesses. 

Personalisation is becoming more important, and this is increasing the value of micro and nano influencers. Super-influencers, with thousands or millions of followers may be great for getting a product in front of people and spotting overall trends in consumer engagement, emotion and reactions, but they can’t have detailed knowledge of their individual followers’ likes, dislikes, needs and wants.

The pandemic has forced consumers to become more flexible, creative and risky in the way they shop. People who may have been intimidated by shopping online are now familiar with getting online deliveries for their weekly food shop. People comfortable with regular online shopping, but wary of social shopping, are starting to branch out as well. Traditional retailers need to adopt the same flexibility by embracing social retail and using data to create social shopping content that makes people want to engage and act.

How is social shopping developing?

Social networks and apps that are already focusing on social commerce have introduced new features to drive engagement. New platforms are coming onto the scene too.

Facebook Shops started to roll out on Facebook and Instagram in May. Businesses can create digital storefronts that act as product catalogues. 

Facebook wants to replicate the “joy of shopping versus the chore of buying”. It’s hoping that Facebook Shops mimics the experience for browsing in a physical store but from the comfort of your home. It’s been difficult for online retailers to replicate the offline shopping experience, but if Facebook can do this, it could be a real threat to many brick-and-mortar stores that don’t have an omnichannel system (that includes social selling) in place.

Snapchat’s shoppable show – Snapchat is making great strides in the social shopping arena. In June it announced that its new show, The Drop, would feature limited edition “streetwear collaborations with celebrities and designers”. Viewers will be able to shop directly from the screen as they watch. 

Snapchat continues to search for ways to monetise its 90% Gen Z user base, and – as Gartner reports – a previous partnership with Adidas was successful. Making streamed shows shoppable is the next step in Snapchat becoming a direct sales platform.

You can see more in our guide to Snapchat Marketing right here

Pinterest incorporated user’s cameras into social shopping back in June. All people need to do is take a photo of what they’re interested in, and Pinterest will search for similar products on its app, which will then link to the item on the retailer’s site.

Former Google and Starbucks executives joined forces to launch a social shopping platform called Tuli – designed for the restaurant trade, Tuli lets restaurant managers, customers and influencers connect. Customers can also order food for takeaway or delivery straight from the photos and posts on the app. It only launched in August 2020, so it’ll take a while to see how successful it becomes.

How do brands see social shopping?

As McKinsey notes, there has been something of a “flight” of customers to omnichannel and digital shopping since the pandemic started. The UK and US have seen more than 30% growth in most areas of retail for online purchases, and France has also seen significant growth.

With more consumers exploring social and online shopping, brands would do well to review their social commerce strategies.

Stackla’s 2019 report on social commerce questioned retailers that already work extensively on social media. It found that:

  • 73% of respondents believed that their brand had already created an emotional bond with consumers – and that this would help them achieve greater success with social commerce.
  • “Developing a meaningful social content strategy” was the area that retailers struggled with most (44% of respondents).
  • 62% of retailers already using social commerce said that it helped to improve communication with customers
  • 92% said that their preferred platform for social commerce was Instagram (77% opted for Facebook, 57% Twitter and 47% Pinterest).

Due to the nature of the pandemic, the trend towards online and social shopping won’t be diminishing soon. Consumers are already turning to each other to find the things they need when they can’t source them from retailers. 

If retailers want to benefit from this boom, they need to use social commerce well, by incorporating it into their social strategy and by using data insights to create emotionally engaging content that encourages people to take action.

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