Do Ecommerce Businesses Need to Prepare for Social Commerce?

Facebook like button - social commerce/social media for businesses

By now, ecommerce businesses are well aware of the power of mobile. Not only are consumers purchasing more through their devices, they’re also spending more time browsing social media. In fact, according to Business Insider, about 60 percent of social media time is spent on smartphones and tablets. So shouldn’t the ability to sell directly on social media be every ecommerce business‘s Holy Grail?

You’d think so, but buying directly from social media sites has had a rocky history. Facebook’s experiment allowing ecommerce businesses to set up stores directly on Facebook, and its Facebook Gifts program that sold physical gifts like flowers or food on the site, got lukewarm receptions. However, with consumers’ rapid adoption of mobile devices, social commerce is finally reaching its tipping point. Both Facebook and Twitter are currently testing “Buy” buttons, which allow users to purchase with just one click on a post or tweet.

Will ecommerce websites become obsolete as purchasing shifts entirely to social channels? Not quite. Here’s a closer look at the trend and what it means for your ecommerce business.

There’s no question that social networks greatly influence consumer purchases, and since consumers spend more time on social platforms, moving their purchases to social media is a logical next step.

Currently, many retailers place links to their websites in product photos on social sites, but buying means clicking through to the retailer’s website, then going through the traditional checkout process — which can be time-consuming and frustrating on a mobile device, especially if the retail site isn’t mobile-optimized.

There are a number of things to consider before making the move to social commerce.

  1. Simplicity: The key to making Buy buttons work is making it simple. Although Twitter’s Buy process incorporates several partner companies to handle payment and encryption, from a user’s perspective, the process is seamless with no indication of the multiple hand-offs. That’s crucial if Buy buttons are to become widely adopted.
  1. Trust: Social networks have big trust hurdles to overcome regarding data security. Will consumers be willing to share credit card data with social networks known for past data breaches? Another issue is whether consumers want their purchases shared on social media. Shoppers buying gifts or personal items such as lingerie may worry that the purchase details will be plastered across Facebook, and will be unlikely to click Buy.
  1. Control: One reason Facebook and Twitter are testing Buy buttons is that they want data about consumer purchase behavior that they don’t currently have. As an online retailer, do you really want to share this customer data with a social media site?
  1. Accountability: If customers have a bad experience buying from you on Facebook, they won’t blame Facebook — they’ll blame you. With any social shopping solution, you must make sure the customer experience matches that on your own website.
  1. Comfort level: Many consumers compare Facebook advertising to a salesperson pitching them at a party. Will Buy buttons be perceived the same way? Millennials — who love shopping with friends — are likely to drive adoption, but Buy buttons could also appeal to convenience-driven consumers like busy moms or early adopters who always want the next big thing.

One way to try the trend before social selling becomes widespread is by using an ecommerce solution to integrate your existing online store with social media. Here are a few popular products to consider:

  • Beetailer imports your online store into Facebook.
  • If you already use Shopify or Volusion to power your online store, you’ll be glad to know they have apps that let you set up Facebook stores.
  • Easy Social Shop lets you sell directly from Facebook ads.
  • Soldsie enables selling on Facebook and Instagram, with Pinterest sales currently in beta testing.
  • inSelly and Hashbag are Instagram marketplaces where consumers can search for and buy products on Instagram.

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