Social commerce, as a subset of E-Commerce, experienced accelerated growth during and post pandemic. Faced with social distancing and lockdown measures consumers worldwide were forced to use online channels to buy goods and services. Furthermore, during the pandemic, the use of social media also increased, and consumers gradually began to use social media platforms to purchase goods and services. Thus, from traditional in-store purchase processes to purchasing through online channels, including social media, the pandemic has changed the very nature of conventional shopping. Therefore, as per data cited in our upcoming publication, “Global Social Commerce Markets and Trends 2022”, more than three-quarters of consumers worldwide are influenced by social media when it comes to their purchase decisions. The evolving social commerce market is constantly being shaped by emerging consumer trends. Although micro influencers have been there for quite some time, this is an important trend. Small and medium sized businesses collaborate are partnering with micro-influencers to reach a broader network of audiences.
Advanced features of social commerce such as live stream, shopping links via TikTok and Pinterest, swipe up feature, and Shop Now button, all in demand from brands collaborating with content creators and influencers. The pandemic also gave rise to demand for products from small and medium businesses as well as local products. As stated in the upcoming yStats.com report, “Global Social Commerce Markets and Trends 2022”, a high percentage of consumers worldwide want to buy from small and medium sized businesses, while others tend to make repeat purchases.
With the advent of technology, buyers globally expect a seamless shopping experience, with direct interactions being key. Facebook and Instagram along with being the most favored social media sites for buying goods and services are also popular mediums for buyer – seller interaction. These platforms offer real – time and advanced chat functions that have led to a rising demand for conversational commerce. Moreover, brands make use of AI and machine learning to create chatbots that allow them to communicate directly with customers throughout the purchase process. Therefore, social commerce is becoming an important trend and is meeting consumers’ needs for a more personalized shopping experience.
Another trend that is shaking up the social commerce market is the use of AR/VR technology and live streaming to promote and sell products on social media. Recently Snapchat launched its AR powered shopping lens for consumers to not only try-on the products but also to get product information that enables instant buying. AR is also being used by well-known beauty brands to allow consumers to virtually try beauty products on themselves using their cell phone cameras. For instance, Sephora recently launched a “Virtual Artist” feature which enables consumers to do virtual makeover. Brands are collaborating with social media platforms to take advantage of the live streaming opportunity. Shopify and TikTok’s collaboration, for example, allows consumers to purchase items shown in the live stream and chat with other shoppers.
To sum up, although social commerce is not a new phenomenon, it is gaining popularity, especially among younger generations. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest are some of the most popular social media sites used for shopping and are driving the growth of social commerce. With new consumer trends coming up in the market, the social commerce market is set to evolve continuously.