Social commerce is the future of online retail. By 2025, Accenture estimates social commerce to more than double to a $1.2 trillion market worldwide. Following the onset of COVID-19, consumers adopted social commerce behaviors, such as discovering, purchasing, and finding support directly on social media apps, at an accelerated rate. Now, brands are embracing these tools to deliver a personalized customer experience on whatever platform customers prefer.
Live shopping, for example, is a powerful way for brands to educate, engage with, and sell to customers in an interactive livestream event featuring brand representatives or influencers. The audience can comment live, ask questions, and even make purchases from links in the livestream. In 2021, the number of people who purchased products in a livestream event increased by 76% globally.
Social media platforms are innovating to meet this growing demand for social commerce. Twitter announced a new Twitter Shops feature that allows brands to showcase up to 50 products on their profiles. Similarly, TikTok is testing shopping features to help brands manage their e-commerce within a second TikTok app. Moving forward, e-commerce brands will have more tools at their disposal to sell directly on social media and provide increasingly seamless customer experiences.
Brands leading in social commerce
As the popularity and accessibility of social commerce grows, these brands have jumped in with both feet to connect with customers where they are:
1. Charlotte Tilbury
Charlotte Tilbury provides engaging, personalized interactions for its customers on several channels using the latest livestream and metaverse technologies. The cosmetics brand was one of the first to create a digital storefront using virtual reality (VR). In November 2020, the brand launched a 3D digital store where shoppers can explore, shop, and receive personalized recommendations from virtual store associates. Charlotte Tilbury also hosts live events including makeup and skincare tutorials within the digital store.
A new feature, “Shop with Friends,” allows customers to invite friends and family to join a video call and navigate the virtual store together. The technology, similar to that in multiplayer video games, mimics the in-person shopping experience. While in the VR store, customers can also play a game where they navigate the store to find and collect hidden keys.
In addition to this social shopping experience, Charlotte Tilbury holds live shopping events on TikTok. During these events, the brand partners with influencers to showcase and demonstrate its products and even offers exclusive discounts for those who purchase directly on TikTok UK.
Petco uses live streaming, influencer marketing, and social shops to provide innovative experiences for its customers. The brand partners with Facebook to engage pet lovers and pet parents in shoppable livestream events. Its first live shopping event combined a pet fashion show with a dog adoption drive hosted by actress and model Arielle Vandenberg. Petco and its charitable foundation donated $100,000 to the dog rescue organization that participated, while also building awareness of its pet apparel brands. The event was highly successful, reaching more than 900,000 people and increasing sales by double the cost of the event.
Following that initial success, Petco partnered with more influencers, including Olympian Gabby Douglas, to hold more livestream events. During its live shopping events, Petco dedicated a team to interact with audience members in real time and promote relevant products on the screen. Remote and on-site employees work together to provide shoppable and engaging events.
The brand has also worked with Facebook and Instagram to establish social shops directly on the social media platforms. Additionally, Petco leveraged its existing influencer partnerships to launch a TikTok campaign that reached over 28 million impressions for its pet apparel brand.
3. KitKat Australia
KitKat introduced the first Facebook Live shopping experience in Australia, “Live from the KitKat Chocolatory,” during the 2020 holiday shopping season. The event featured its chocolatiers demonstrating new products, interacting with special guests, and providing exclusive offers to the audience.
The innovative experience included a shopping feature for livestream viewers to purchase products by simply typing keywords. A viewer could type a prescribed keyword into the comment box, triggering a Messenger notification including a link to purchase the product online. Technologies like this keyword artificial intelligence (AI) tool are becoming more pervasive as social media companies experiment with new ways to purchase products directly on their platforms.
Zimba, a global teeth-whitening brand, quickly adopted the Facebook Shops platform to bring its products directly to its customers on the social media platform. With Facebook Shops, Zimba created a digital storefront where customers can discover and purchase products without leaving the app.
To provide seamless customer care, Zimba also enables its customers to contact the brand directly on Messenger and Instagram Direct Message (DM). Customers can ask product questions, get support, and track deliveries before, during, and after they make a purchase on social media. As a result, Zimba realized a 6.7% increase in average order value from buyers on social media compared to buyers on its website.
H&M was one of the first apparel brands to invest in closing the gap between social media and online shopping. The brand created its own mobile sites that would list apparel and accessories from images in its Tweets that linked directly to purchase the products online. Today, the brand uses Instagram Shopping to promote its latest styles directly on the mobile app and link to products featured in every post.
The brand’s next step is to launch “Shop Live” at its H&M HOME Concept store in Kuwait’s largest shopping mall, The Avenues. With technology powered by Go Instore, customers can access instant live consultations with staff in the store while browsing online. The new tool provides personalized experiences regardless of whether customers choose to shop in person or at home.
Stepping into social commerce
Consumer demand has forced businesses to pivot online and social commerce has emerged as the sine qua non for brands looking to not only engage with consumers on social media, but convert them into customers. By leveraging the power of live shopping, digital storefronts, shoppable ads, and social shops brands are able to better meet customer expectations. However, according to a Forrester study, fewer than 30% of social commerce leaders are prioritizing customer engagement, failing to cultivate and nurture customer relationships throughout the social purchase journey, and putting their long-term social commerce growth at risk. One thing's for sure, brands that don’t adopt social commerce now will fall far behind the competition, while the brands that embrace innovation will reach consumers eager for personalized and engaging experiences.
The future of social commerce is now. Download 6 steps to winning with social commerce to set your social commerce efforts up for success from the start.