Social e-commerce is the integration of social media and e-commerce, allowing customers to purchase products and services directly through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. The launch of shops through these platforms allows brands to integrate their online offering into social networking routines by displaying products mid-stream. In theory, this provides buyers with a seamless transaction, negating the need to navigate away from the app.
While this is a rapidly growing trend that is changing the way we shop, there are potential challenges that the social platforms need to address. Here are our key points for brands to consider.
Fragmentation of customer journeys
Customers may start their shopping journey on a particular social media platform, only to find that the process is not always as seamless as one would hope. A lack of consistency across platforms sometimes means taking the user away and interrupting their social experience. Due to the nature of how fragmented customer journeys are, beginning the purchase within one app, but completing it within another, makes it difficult to track the customer’s journey accurately.
This also impacts consumer safety. There have been increasing cases of fraud across social e-commerce platforms, capitalising on the ease of purchasing in-app, with it becoming increasingly difficult for customers to identify safe and secure payment gateways to avoid any issues.
Role of influencers
Influencers have played a vital role in the growth of TikTok e-commerce as it creates an opportunity for brands to communicate with their target audience. Customers are more likely to purchase from an authentic interaction which highlights the reliability of the product.
User-generated content dominates most of the information viewed across social platforms, posing a challenge for brands. As this form of advertising has become so popular there is a risk of saturation in the market. Intense competition for every user’s attention makes it even harder for brands to stand out amid the crowd. There are also challenges regarding content not being clearly displayed as an ‘ad,’ calling into question the trust consumers place in what they’re seeing across Social.
Integrating 1st party data
A common issue for advertisers has been the inability to measure ROI accurately through traditional retail media. However, the expansion of integrating first party retail data into social platforms has enabled advertisers to maximise their investment by only paying to reach high-value users. Furthermore, they can now attribute both offline and online sales, enhancing the effectiveness of the advertising campaign.
This also allows the user to be served a more personal ad that is relevant to their purchasing behaviours, improving their in-app experiences. This is a great way to mitigate measurement issues. However, setting up data and privacy protocols to capitalise on this is often a bigger obstacle than perhaps it should be. We see social e-commerce as a powerful tool to drive business growth, but it is important to acknowledge the potential challenges that come with exploring a new channel.
In conclusion, social e-commerce is a powerful tool to drive business growth, but it is important to acknowledge the potential challenges that come with exploring a new channel.