By Jessica Usenbor, director of product, diversified services and partnerships at Omnicom Media Group MENA
Social commerce, or ‘s-commerce’, exposes consumers to a large variety of products based on their search queries, social interactions and content preference. In turn, it enables brands to reach their target audience more effectively, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between consumers and brands. According to Emarketer, s-commerce in the US is expected to grow by 34 per cent in 2021, earning $36.62bn this year and making e-commerce strategy even more relevant. Southeast Asia continues to lead in the social commerce space and has shown an overall growth of 116 per cent in social commerce orders in the first half of 2020, surpassing 2019 three times over.
As TikTok, Snapchat and Facebook are the top three social platforms in MENA, let’s take a more detailed look into their s-commerce capabilities.
Live videos are used by brands and influencers to share product reviews, demos and other brand information. With Live shopping, brands and creators can include affiliate and checkout links to a TikTok Live, allowing the consumer to purchase in real-time. During the Live, you can check out while the live stream is playing in the background, creating an uninterrupted user experience. Shoppers also have the option to access the full list of items featured in a live stream at any time during or after a Live. This feature is currently being tested in other markets.
TikTok has also recently partnered with Shopify to further enrich its s-commerce offering. The integration between the two platforms means that brands present on Shopify are now able to seamlessly extend their reach to TikTok users and use TikTok and Shopify data to create s-commerce strategies, measure and optimise ads across platforms.
Facebook and Instagram Shops
As there is seamless data integration between the two platforms, measurability and targeting capabilities allow for more precise communication and relatable content.
The Facebook Shop and brand Instagram profile pages allow brands to create an online storefront that delivers an end-to-end shopping experience in one place. Consumers can browse catalogues, save products for later, share and immediately buy within the apps or on a brand’s website.
Facebook is constantly evolving its s-commerce with features that create a simple yet interactive digital shopping experience for both the brand and consumers. The just-released Drops feature connects online shoppers to the brands’ latest products and upcoming releases on the Shop tab in the app. Users can sign up for release notifications, save a Drop to their Instagram profile, share a Drop with friends and directly purchase products that they have ‘dropped’ within the app, using the Checkout feature.
Facebook has also newly released a Live Shopping feature, a more interactive forum for brands to communicate with their audience. With this release, brands and content creators will be able to link their lives to their Facebook shops and catalogues so consumers can click to learn more or purchase in real-time during the respective live video. In addition, Facebook is testing a new feature allowing brands to connect their loyalty programmes to their Facebook Shops.
Facebook s-commerce also includes WhatsApp and Messenger business suite and chatbot capabilities to mirror, track, and scale customer service. In the future, consumers will be able to purchase directly within these apps.
Snapchat has just recently entered into the s-commerce space with ‘Brand Profiles’. Currently, in beta, brands can create a Brand Hub within the app to connect their Brand AR Lenses, Brand Highlights and Story posts in one place. The Native Store feature included within Brand Hub exposes Snapchatters to a brand’s in-app storefront, where they can browse and purchase within the app.
Helpful tips for brands looking to get started on s-commerce:
1. Set up social store fronts and catalogues within the social platforms of choice. Whether you are driving consumers to your website or to the brand store within the app, you will be able to leverage enriched data from the platforms for use in your shoppable ads or other digital campaigns.
2. Understand local capabilities of social commerce platforms in your market, as limitations will exist by region. Often, new capabilities and features are piloted in more established markets or where the adoption rate is high.
3. Identify the right s-commerce platforms for your brand needs. Evaluate integrations with internal platforms, targeting capabilities and audience reach, etc. This will help you develop a tailored retail and marketing plan, inclusive of digital and organic strategy per platform.
4. When developing your activation plan, it’s important to identify the stage of your brand’s product in the marketing funnel. Based on the objective, different features such as call-to-action and messaging will need to be considered for optimal results.
5. Ensure the user checkout experience is seamless. Content should be created with the checkout process in mind. The first interaction with the brand should be straightforward and engaging, encouraging shoppers to a clear and swift checkout process.
6. As you enter the s-commerce space it’s ideal to invest in and test multiple social platforms as it will open up new audiences, capabilities, proprietary optimisation algorithms and more.