If there was a recent sales phenomenon to take the business world by storm, it’s social commerce.
Social commerce harnesses the power of social media to integrate products into people’s daily lives, bringing their awareness to brands in a subtle yet powerful way.
The sites that own today’s social media landscape are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – sites consumers look to for connection, communication and inspiration. Such is Facebook’s influence, PayPal’s mCommerce Index shows it accounts for 75 per cent of all interaction by social commerce consumers.
There are a plethora of opportunities for innovative businesses hoping to capitalise on the social commerce trend. Yet very few in Australia are geared to make the most of the new frontier with just 7 per cent accepting payments via social media sites or apps. A further 5 per cent say they plan to make these payment channels available in the next six months.
As the trend gathers pace, the business community is witnessing the growth of businesses born from social media. Unlike those that blossomed in the heydays of online commerce, these young businesses rely on social media for everything from customer loyalty to sales.
Fashion entrepreneur Alyce Tran started The Daily Edited five years ago on the back of Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. What started as a hobby blog is, today, a multimillion dollar business best known for its monogrammed leather accessories.
“If it weren’t for social media and the environment we now operate in, in terms of how integrated social media is with our lives, I wouldn’t have a business,” she explains.
“It’s where we put products first and where customers started coming to us, inquiring with us as to where they could buy that product.”
Tran and her team use social media to announce new promotions, display new collections and show how products can be styled. Customers interested in finding out more or wanting to buy, simply click on images or text and are taken through to The Daily Edited website.
Brands aware of the huge sales potential from engagement platforms, like Instagram, design curated landing pages to remove any friction from buying on social media.
But the benefits of social media are not just for the brand, says Tran.
“The way that I think about social media is the same as, how I consider our website, in an ecosystem of everything else we have to do to keep the business operating,” she says.
“It’s just a part of the chain of designing a product, bringing it into production and displaying it somewhere – whether that be David Jones, our website or social media.
“On the flipside for the consumer as well, most of them are coming through to us from social. And that again is through them interacting with us on social media on so many levels in terms of just commenting that they love a product, stating that they require customer service or customer care amongst other things, so many people are using it as a mode of communication now.”
Social media has become a central part of Australians’ lives. It’s where we turn for news, information about our friends and family, and to share updates from our own lives. Increasingly, it’s also a platform for reviewing brands and services, and receiving recommendations about them.
Considering this, it’s only natural that while using social channels – including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others – we are open to browsing products and even, potentially, buying them.
Social commerce is a significant opportunity for Australian businesses. At the heart of the concept is the commitment to take your products to your customers wherever they are, instead of expecting them to come to you. It’s making it easier for consumers to shop by putting the brands they love in the environments they are comfortable in.
It’s also a cost-effective way of marketing to consumers, making it perfect for entrepreneurs and our country’s many small businesses.
One thing businesses should keep in mind when selling on social is security. The recent PayPal mCommerce Index found that nearly 50% of Australian consumers worry about their safety while shopping on social. These concerns can be managed by working with an experienced partner like PayPal.Click here to learn more about social commerce
The Daily Edited now has 144,000 followers on Instagram and 21,000 likes on Facebook. Tran says these numbers have grown thanks to a successful strategy of keeping the brand’s social media appealing and evolving.
“I often say to people social media gives back to you what you give to it,” she explains.
“So when we’re making images to upload, because something like Instagram is incredibly visual – it’s all about pictures – so I’m always doing my best to create the best imagery to put onto that platform.
“If it’s a good picture we tend to sell the product. People don’t want to see the same things everyday. Internally I like to be challenged, I don’t like my feed to look uniform. Content creation helps us grow loyalty to our brand, interest in our brand and then sales.”
Social influencers are an essential part of any social commerce strategy. These bloggers, vloggers or online celebrities have unmatched persuasive power of their thousands of followers.
When The Daily Edited rebranded and went from blog to business in 2014, Tran gave half of the brand’s product away to social media influencers. It was an expensive, but worthwhile, way to cultivate a crowd of influencers aligned with the fashion label’s look and feel.
“So it’s just whether your interests align, and then you can cultivate a relationship with them offline as well.”
Research shows social commerce is still in its infancy in Australia with PayPal’s mCommerce Index revealing almost 50 per cent of consumers are concerned for the security and safety of their personal information. Businesses seem aware of this hesitation with 28 per cent saying their customers didn’t want to buy via social media platforms.
This barrier may be generational with further statistics showing younger Australians are more likely to buy something they’ve seen on social media than older Australians.
Like the uptake in social media, trust in social commerce is growing. Businesses can encourage that trust by doing everything in their power to provide positive social commerce experiences.
Building a community of influencers combined with a frictionless mobile experience leads to an engaged and loyal customer base, and ultimately, a robust sales model.