Social Commerce is one of the fast-growing trends in retail. It is the ability for the customers to complete the purchase of the product while browsing their favorite social media website. For example, a customer scrolling through their favorite social media gets intrigued by a product! How cool would it be if they get to know about the product and buy it right away while on the platform? That is the possibility social commerce brings – making shopping a part of social interactions!
People spend an average of two hours or more on social media interactions. They take inspiration from the outfits other people wear, places they travel, the food they eat, or even how they decorate their homes. Hence it is only a natural extension for the social media platforms to enable customers to buy the products that inspire them. For social media platforms, enabling the purchase experience allows them to understand the customer behaviors better, thereby increasing engagement with better targeting.
So, why should retailers start thinking about Social Commerce now?
Power of Social Communities
Human beings are social beings wanting to be part of communities. Social media communities bring like-minded people together who share common interests, often exhibiting similar online behavior. These communities are an effective channel for word-of-mouth marketing.
Social communities provide access to large groups of people that brands want to target. For example, it is a huge opportunity for a home improvement retailer to target social media groups that discuss home buying, upgrades, or remodeling.
The social media user base is constantly growing. The reach and engagement that brands get with this customer base will eventually lead to better conversions. For the customers, it is better engagement. For the brands, it is a captive audience.
Power of Influencers
Influencers play a vital role in social commerce. They serve as a valuable vehicle for product discovery and inspiration. According to a Global Web Index study, at least 17 percent of social media users are inspired by what an influencer says or wears. Influencers are even more effective with the younger generation.
As the adoption of mobile devices is on the rise, the shopping experience can be very seamless with social commerce. Imagine a customer looking to buy a suit, starts researching online, and shortlists a brand. Subsequently, when scrolling through Instagram, they see their favorite influencer wearing the same suit. Later when they are rendered an ad for the same product with the option to buy, they will be inclined to purchase the product right there. This seamless buying experience will create a deeper connection with the brand than a stock photo of the product on their website.
While there is no denying that influencers are a powerful group when it comes to creating brand awareness, AI has taken this to yet another level by creating virtual personalities performing the role of an influencer. These AI-generated influencers are gaining immense popularity lately. This is yet another avenue for brands to connect with their customers.
Increased Customer Loyalty and Retention
Social commerce enables brands to promote their products and services and also build a deep relationship with their customers. It also opens up two-way communication opportunities to showcase their products frequently through updates in regular social media feeds. Customers can leverage the same platform to provide feedback on the products. By catering to the customer's needs via superior service, social commerce can become a significant revenue driver for the brands.
Sentiment Analysis or Emotion AI uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) can help identify negative comments on social media. With the help of sentiment analysis, brands can learn about how their products are being perceived by their customer, enabling them to be more proactive about their responses back to them.
While Social commerce is still in its nascent stages, many players are testing its various facets and learning along the way. This, when done right will put them ahead of the curve in their e-commerce journey. The time is now ripe for the brands to formulate a plan and jump on this bandwagon to reap the benefits of better customer engagement and retention.
In a spirited discussion on AI and the retail industry, Puneet Chandok, President of Microsoft India and South Asia delved deeply into India's role in transforming the world through Artificial Intelligence and technology enablement. He discussed Microsoft's commitment to India, not only in training Indian talent but also in leveraging it.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised the Tech Entrepreneurs Association of Mumbai (TEAM) for hosting Mumbai Tech Week and their ongoing involvement in building tech startups in the country. During a panel discussion with Haptik CEO Aakrit Vaish at Mumbai Tech Week, Puneet Chandok, President of Microsoft India and South Asia, emphasized the transformative impact AI could have on various aspects of daily life.
Chandok stated, “When we look at India through the lens of demand, supply, and impact, there is no other market like India today. There are 7,000 listed companies in India and one hundred thousand startups. Many startups are in Maharashtra, and one hundred new startups are emerging in India every day. India is the largest SMB market globally, making it one of the most exciting markets today.”
He further added, “When we look at the supply lens and examine Microsoft's data, one out of four projects on AI in GitHub today is run out of India. Every sixth AI researcher in the world is from India. In the next ten years, 25 percent of the global workforce will come from India, meaning every fourth worker in the world will be from India.”
Discussing the growing influence and power of Artificial Intelligence, Chandok mentioned, “Last night, my 12-year-old daughter was creating text-to-video, and she told me that AI will change her life. She is an artist; she draws and paints. This also indicates how the younger generation perceives AI.”
Expanding on this, Chandok continued, “People will stop searching and instead have conversations. I have stopped searching myself; in fact, I was conversing with my Copilot to understand what is happening at the event and what I should speak about. We have shifted from searching to genuine conversations. This is not just chat drama anymore. These are sophisticated engines providing reasoning within.”
Regarding his personal perspective, Chandok remarked, “People say AI is overhyped, but I think it's not hyped enough. The next generation, which will use this in the next few years, will have much higher expectations of what technology can do for them. So, how you build it for that generation, how you build it for that future, will be really interesting to see."
Chandok also emphasized that those who do not embrace AI, risk falling behind in the rapidly evolving technological landscape. He encouraged Indian developers to seize the "lifetime opportunity" to become unstoppable by learning to use and deploy AI effectively.
He concluded, “If you are not learning AI, you are falling behind. I myself spend 30 minutes a day to learn more about AI. Technology is changing every day, and it has been 15 months since ChatGPT was launched. The speed of technology diffusion is unlike anything I have seen in my life, and it is advancing very rapidly. My call to action for everyone is to find a way to learn, otherwise, we will all fall behind.”
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