It was imminent for the impact of social networks and the need for online shopping to merge and mold social retail. While China is significantly ahead of the rest of the globe in embracing social networks for online shopping, the U.S. market is swiftly catching up. In the U.S. alone, Statista estimated social retail sales at almost $52 billion in 2022 and projected it to surpass $145 billion by 2028.
To give some perspective on just how much social retail is surging: its worldwide revenue is valued at $724 billion in 2022 and is predicted to reach $6 trillion by 2030 (Statista). However, many brands are unsure if it’s worthwhile to enter the social retail arena that’s already saturated with competition.
This blog delves into social retail, its advantages, platforms, and instances. So first, what is social retail?
What Is Social Retail?
Social retail is the promotion and sale of a brand’s products and services through social retail platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Through this selling method, customers complete purchases without leaving social media platforms.
In addition to making purchases, brands can utilize social networks for online shopping to help consumers to:
- Discover brands
- Explore products
- Engage with customer support
The increasing popularity of social retail trends is owed to the convenient and interactive shopping experience it offers and the growing use of social media.
The Distinction Between Social Retail And Online Shopping
Related as they are, social retail and online shopping are different from each other. Online shopping is a buying and shopping experience that happens anywhere online, such as a retailer’s website, rather than just on social media. Typically, such websites are constructed through online shopping platforms like Shopify and can be accessed by consumers on any internet-enabled device.
Social retail is not online shopping but an aspect of it, and its entire purchasing process – from product exploration to checkout – occurs strictly within social retail platforms. These platforms provide native commerce tools for small businesses on social media that you can establish even without having your own online shopping website. However, online shopping merchants who want to stay ahead of the game would not view social retail and online shopping websites as an “either-or.” Thus, alongside your business social media platforms, you’ll want to maintain your website.
Websites will continue to be the central avenue for online shopping transactions. But offering social media users conversion options can only help in driving sales.
Furthermore, while social retail is often used interchangeably with social online shopping, the latter is incorrect. Another term that is frequently confused with social retail is social selling. Social selling is the process of building awareness and connections with the aim of making a sale and can happen online or offline.
Key Advantages Of Social Retail
For significant benefits, many brands are already deeply invested in social media marketing for online shopping today. But still, it’s not too late for you to claim a piece of the pie; since this year alone, Statista predicted sales through social media platforms to generate $992 billion globally. Furthermore, social retail trends in value indicate it would only go upward from here.
A variety of benefits arise from utilizing social retail. Such as more transparency in conversion tracking (no need to worry about third-party pixel data or other platforms to track transactions) and better audience targeting capabilities to keep users on-platform.
So with a robust social retail strategy, below are more top benefits of social retail:
1. Position Your Brand in Front of Inquisitive Consumers
As mentioned earlier, the increasing use of social media propels the demand for social retail. Per Statista, as of April 2022, over five billion people use the internet globally, making up 63.1 percent of the world’s population. From this figure, 4.7 million people, or 59 percent of the global population, were social media users.
The numbers spell more potential customers you can tap with social media marketing for online shopping. Similarly, if your target audience lies within Generation Z and millennials, you have more chances of connecting with them if you learn how to sell on social media.
2. Provide a Seamless Shopping Experience for Your Customers
Consumers are more likely to lose interest and abandon what could have been a successful purchase if extra steps are involved. But fortunately, with social retail, you eliminate unnecessary stages that cause friction in the process. As such, you allow users to stay conveniently within the app with native features like Buy buttons, in-app checkouts and instant messaging for accessible customer support.
For instance, instead of redirecting hot leads to your website, Facebook has social media tools for small businesses, particularly U.S. online shopping merchants, that allow you to set up a shop with a checkout feature.
3. Rely on Social Proof With Customer Feedback
It’s been said time and again that consumers seek out ratings and reviews before purchasing, especially in social retail, where online shoppers lack the luxury to test or try products. A solid social proof on social media for online shopping, reviews are user-generated content (UGC) that many brands covet to establish brand trust. Social retail platforms provide your customers with a streamlined process of leaving feedback, whether it be through the comments or review section of your page.
Online shopping merchants can try incentivizing users to share content with giveaways or discounts. And it’s no secret that influencers triumph on social media, so look into influencer marketing to further generate social proof.
4. Obtain Valuable Consumer Data Effortlessly
If you’ve ever explored the Ads manager of any business social media platform, you would know that demographic data that include gender, age and geographical location are readily available for you. Hence, social retail platforms are a gold mine for customer data; such data is crucial to informing your paid social media marketing for online shopping.
Facebook Audience Insights, for instance, provide marketers with even more in-depth insights. On top of basic demographics, you can access education levels, job titles and relationship statuses. Furthermore, online shopping merchants can also target users based on their interests and hobbies.
Top Social Retail Platforms You Should Explore
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are major players well ahead of introducing native social retail features. But other platforms aren’t too far behind, with Youtube, TikTok and Twitter pressing to stake their claims. Let’s look into some of them.
Per Statista, Facebook reigns as the most used platform for purchases in 2021. The platform has an extremely low barrier to entry. What’s more, Facebook Shops are highly customizable. You’re free to select which products or collections to highlight and alter the typefaces, graphics and colors to reflect your brand. Creating a product catalog could be done via import or from scratch.
Instagram claims 60 percent of people discover new products on the platform. Instagram Shops enable users to purchase items featured on your content, whether photos or videos, anywhere in the app. Your shop on the platform is directly linked to your Facebook Shop. However, if you intend to sell strictly on Instagram Shops, you are not required to create or supply a Facebook business page when setting up shop.
While a relatively new player in social retail, TikTok’s one billion monthly active users lays out plenty of opportunities for brands. The popular #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag is backed by the platform’s survey with Kantar that revealed 90 percent of users take action after watching
a TikTok, be it like, share or buy. Unfortunately, as of December 2022, TikTok Shop is still limited to select U.S. merchants.
With such lucrative platforms equipping you with social retail tools, the world is your oyster. So to teach you how to sell on social media, let’s look at a few social retail examples.
Social Retail Examples To Inspire Your Brand
Exploring social retail examples from brands that have a firm footing in the industry is the best approach to inform your social retail strategy.
1. Milk Bar
Founded by celebrity chef Christina Tosi, Milk Bar began as a humble bakery in New York City’s East Village in 2008. Since then, Milk Bar has become a significant partaker in national online shopping, selling ice cream, cakes, cookies and pies. Its founder relied heavily on Instagram in its beginnings and, later, its social retail features, which have been crucial to Milk Bar’s continuing success.
Image: Shopify (Milk Bar’s Instagram Shop)
Committed to exceptional customer support, Snug is a “sofa-in-a-box” company in London offering quick delivery and a 100-day trial. In 2021, the brand’s £31.6 million (about $41.4 million) revenue came from social media. Snug’s investment in social media for online shopping includes product-focused pins showcasing its products in real-life settings.
Image: Shopify (Snug’s Pinterest presence)
ZOX is a wristband brand. The inspirational words on ZOX wristbands, made of recycled bottles, function as wearable reminders of encouragement for those wearing them. ZOX has a Facebook Shop, where it puts considerable effort into live shopping events and showcases more than a hundred products.
Image: Shopify (Zox’s Facebook Shop)
These brands above could have focused all their efforts on their respective websites and brick-and-mortar shops. But given the rising social retail trends demonstrating a massive reach and lucrative potential, it only makes sense to invest and dive deeper into social retail.
Leadshouse: Your Next Best Social Retail Strategy Team To Deliver A 5-Star Shopping Experience
Social media has revolutionized how brands and consumers relate. Thus, social media marketing for online shopping merchants is no longer discretionary but crucial to success. With that said, the explosive future of social retail is yours to seize, and Leadshouse is here to support you.
Leadshouse’s paid social media advertising service is a perfect start to explore and profit from social retail. With a few clicks, we can get your Facebook and Instagram shops up and running.
Leadshouse is a team of digital marketing experts specializing in social retail. We help brands deliver a 5-star shopping experience customers will return to over and over again. To get started, visit our website today!