Social media has become the digital community the world was looking for, especially during the pandemic, and no wonder, it's fast becoming the new shopping destination as well. Since the inception of the pandemic caused by Covid-19, millennials, as well as adults, have started spending a considerable amount of their time on social media platforms, browsing, connecting, interacting with their peer groups and families. With the rising number of internet users across the country, the number of people engaging through social media platforms is only going to rise in the times to come and engaging not only with their acquaintances but with businesses and retail brands.
Globally, 90 percent of Instagram users follow business profiles and 93 percent of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchase decision. So why not give them the option to shop right there?
Social shopping is a crossroads between social media and e-commerce; its a process of selling products directly on social media. While e-commerce is not new to social media and it already has a significant presence across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, the most recent one to test drive this feature is Twitter. The social media platform is testing its Shop Module in the US that offers brands, businesses, and other retailers
the ability to showcase their products to Twitter users directly on the business’ profile. The Shop Module will appear in a new, dedicated space at the top of a supported Twitter profile. This opens up the business’s website inside the Twitter app itself, where the customer can learn more about the product in question and opt to make a purchase.
If successfully implemented across countries, the feature will further strengthen the already growing social commerce segment. Globally, social commerce is a US$ 89.4 billion market right now and is projected to grow to US$ 604.5 billion in the next seven years.
Vijeta Soni, Co-Founder, and CEO, Sciative Solutions, asserts, “Retailers and e-commerce businesses have recognized the importance of social media for many years, but they haven't really deciphered the relationship between social media and online shopping together. According to research where the social media usage and online shopping patterns were studied of a small set of 1,000 users, it was observed that the more an individual used social media, the more purchases they made online and the higher the number of different retailers they bought items from. To simply put, social media e-commerce is like having the ‘market come to the people, rather than people going to the market’. Over the last few years for retailers and brands, social media has been used as a platform for brand discovery. Opportunities were available to target cohorts based on the brand and retail TGs. Going forward the role of social media will evolve to that of a ‘trade partner’. The reach, targeting capabilities, and content engagement that social media platforms offer are most suitable for product discovery and sales enablement.”
What Does it Entail for Retail Brands?
Retail, today, is all about reaching the consumer base where they are and it only makes sense for retail businesses to become social media friendly and savvy to tap the potential these platforms have for reaching the right consumer base. Consumers want a frictionless shopping experience and giving them an option to buy directly from the social media platform, will make the process of discovery to purchase easier than ever – it will be just see it, click it, buy it, for them. So, what will it really mean for the retail businesses?
First and foremost, the feature will definitely help D2C brands connect directly with their consumers in a seamless manner and bridge the shopping-socializing gap by bringing a unified platform to showcase the products that people can shop effortlessly. The feature will evolve the role of this social media platform from just a marketing platform to a selling platform.
A survey report by Stackla maintained that 73 percent of retailers believed that their brand had already created an emotional bond with consumers – and that social commerce would help them achieve greater success, 62 percent of retailers already using social commerce said that it helped to improve communication with customers and among all the participants, 92 percent said that their preferred platform for social commerce was Instagram, 77 percent opted for Facebook, 57 percent Twitter, and 47 percent Pinterest.
Twitter had started experimenting with shopping on its platform in 2015 and later dropped the feature. In March this year, Twitter Investor Relations released a thread on their handle, talking about plans to reinstate shopping features on their platform, similar to the rollout of Professional Profiles in April for US users.
Will it be Accepted?
While it sounds like a great proposition for retail brands, there might be few inhibitions regarding the safety norms in the process.
Anuj Kejriwal, CEO & MD, ANAROCK Retail, avers, “Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. have trillions of active users combined and as such there is a huge potential audience that each one of these can leverage. However, it will be interesting to see how well this module/concept will work in a country like India where security concerns (safety in terms of account hacking, etc.) could pose a challenge. Also, a major population of the country – particularly rural - is yet to hook on to many of these social media platforms.”
Twitter has been focusing on monetization other than ads and the most recent attempt comes after it introduced the Twitter Blue paid subscription that charges people for access to exclusive features. There's also the new Tip Jar feature that lets people tip other users for their tweets.
According to experts, Twitter should look after the safety issues while also developing new solutions to assist in making online buying more seamless.
“Use of deep learning technologies should also be leveraged to make the user’s buying and selling journeys easy and simple. One of the critical dimensions for Twitter to cover here would be ‘Right Dynamic Pricing’. Through the usage of advanced artificial intelligence and automation, Twitter Shops should set personalized price/promotions/cash-back strategies encouraging consumers to shop online and ensuring revenue maximization and customer loyalty for both sellers and themselves. Additionally, Twitter should collaborate with companies like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, TiendaNube, and Feedonomics to provide support to small businesses,” concludes Vijeta Soni.