In today's digital age, social media has become core to many people’s online existence. From online interactions to a source of entertainment and information sharing.
But social media isn’t just for liking content and sharing memes anymore.
It’s also the ‘place-to-be’ for online shopping and eCommerce.
Social shopping has transformed how consumers purchase products and businesses interact with their customers. Social media has created a convenient and accessible platform for organisations to showcase their products in different ways, connect with potential customers, and provide an engaging shopping experience without the need to leave social media.
Throughout this blog, we’ll explore the concept of social shopping as part of your eCommerce strategy, why it’s important, and how businesses can leverage social shopping to drive sales and build a strong brand presence.
Social Shopping is a ‘does what it says on the tin’ term. It’s integrating eCommerce with social media. Retailers can showcase their products in fun and alternative ways, interact with potential customers and give a boundaryless shopping experience where consumers don’t need to leave the social platform.
The concept of social shopping stems from the psychological principle of social proof. Where people are more likely to follow the actions of others in similar situations. Seeing others buying and recommending products on social media creates a sense of trust and credibility in the product, making them more likely to purchase.
Marketing strategies for eCommerce organisations are constantly evolving. The phrase omnichannel has been used for over a decade, but the channels utilised and prioritised changes with time and trends.
Social shopping has made it through the ranks to a key channel for organisations to focus on as it brings several benefits.
Meeting Customers Where They Are
With over 3.8 billion active social media users worldwide, businesses can leverage social platforms to reach customers who already spend their time online.
Building Trust and Credibility
Social proof is powerful. When consumers see their peers recommending or using a product on social media, they're more likely to trust and purchase it themselves to avoid feeling left behind.
Social shopping enables businesses to tap into this power of social proof to build trust and credibility with their potential customers.
Creating a Seamless Shopping Experience
Rather than having to leave the social media platform to make a purchase, users can browse and buy products all within the same app. This minimises friction in the buying process and improves customer satisfaction.
Generating New Leads and Sales
Social media and shopping enable businesses to reach new audiences and generate leads, all while targeting their target market in a highly personalised way with relevant content increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
Providing a Competitive Advantage
Not all organisations have tapped into social shopping. Getting involved now sets a retailer apart from most competitors.
How we shop has changed dramatically since social media became mainstream; with new ways of shopping emerging constantly, live shopping is no different. Some social platforms haven’t yet taken advantage of this new way of shopping, while others, such as TikTok, are using it to their full advantage.
What is live shopping?
TikTok integrates purchasing goods on live streams in-app. It’s an eCommerce experience for users to see a brand's products in real-time. It creates a one-stop shopping experience where users get live feedback and see others' opinions instantly. These social platforms are making shopping much quicker and easier for users as they don’t need to leave the app to make a purchase.
Live shopping is comparable to similar existing shopping methods, such as television shopping channels, QVC and High Street TV. Ultimately, social shopping is an opportunity for brands to reach new generations and audiences enabling them to tap into a larger community.
How does it work?
During the live stream, brands can showcase a product, and a pin related to that product will pop up on the screen. The viewers can then browse through all the live products and purchase them through the social app. Users also have the option to wait until the end of the live stream to browse through all the products that were featured on the stream and purchase in one go.
To make a purchase during a TikTok Live Shopping stream, viewers need to have a valid payment method linked to their TikTok account. TikTok Live Shopping currently supports credit cards and debit cards for payment.
The creator receives a portion of the revenue generated from the sale of products during their live stream. TikTok takes a commission on each transaction, which varies depending on the product category and the creator's partnership agreement with TikTok.
Invite a Co-Host
A great way to strengthen the engagement on your TikTok live streams is to have an entertaining or well-known host. This can be partnered with inviting a co-host to the stream to help expand the audience. For even better results, try and collab with a creator that has a good following and fits the brand.
It's very beneficial to incorporate a question and answers slot into your live stream. Giving your audience a chance to ask questions about your products makes them feel valued and heard, in turn favouring your brand in the future. TikTok has a Q&A feature built-in to make the process easier.
Purchasing Within the App
As you're hosting your live, you can demonstrate your products and how they work. The beauty of live shopping is that the viewers can purchase your product in-app. Featured products can be found in a small window in the bottom right of the page. You can instantly click the "Buy" button to purchase that item.
Viewers Can Comment
Your audience has the opportunity to share their thoughts throughout the live. This is beneficial for you as a brand as viewers can view the comments, meaning they can gauge everyone else's opinion on the products, reinforcing the social proof concept to influence a sale.
Viewers Engaging with Items
Another way your viewers can interact with the stream is by clicking the like button and by sending "gift" items. Viewers can make monetary donations to the creator with gift items in the form of icons and stickers.
A Showcase of Products
Essentially, live shopping is another format of shopping channels such as QVC. To make it as engaging as possible, try and have a unique hook to your stream such as packing orders live as they're placed.
Real-Time Connection with your Audience
Viewers feel a more personal connection with your brand when you interact with them in real-time. It builds a relationship with your followers, and you can demo how to use or apply a product, expanding their trust and desire for your products.
Increased Buying Potential
A report from TikTok shows that users are twice as likely to recommend a product or service they've discovered on TikTok. Because of this, it's 1.5x more likely to successfully convince others to try that product or service.
Bigger Audience Reach
Live streams aren’t just about selling products for brands - they’re another way of increasing brand awareness. TikTok’s live shopping feature is the most effective platform for this, with it being the fastest-growing video-sharing platform on the market today. The UK spends the most time on TikTok, with an average of 27.3 hours a month spent on the app. The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to increasing brand awareness.
Increase in Following and Views
It’s reported that Walmart created a live shopping event on TikTok that bagged them 7 times more views than expected and even grew their followers by 25%. It’s no secret that creating an engaging live stream can grow your brand and success, even for smaller businesses.
Lighthearted eCommerce Platform
Lots of TikTok accounts go live every single day, from small businesses to more prominent brands. Users, as well as brands, are able to sell or advise viewers when it comes to products. If a well-followed and respected creator hosts a live promoting a product they like, it’s likely to have a strong return. The success of the eCommerce side of the platform is also measured by its hashtag, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt which has become a trend thanks to the product recommendations from creators.
Whilst live shopping appears to have proven to reap the largest rewards, it isn’t the only way to improve the bottom line when it comes to sales. Social shopping has many avenues to explore which will see new audiences and target markets reached.
Utilise Social Media Advertising
Social media advertising is a powerful tool for businesses to reach their target audience with highly personalised and relevant content. By utilising social media advertising, businesses can create campaigns that drive traffic to their online store or specific products, leading to increased sales and brand awareness.
Influencer marketing is another effective way for retailers to reach their target audience through social media. By partnering with influencers with an engaged following, businesses can tap into their audiences and promote their products to a highly targeted audience.
Top tip: Invite a highly relevant influencer to your next live shopping stream and take advantage of their following.
Use Social Media to Showcase Products
Social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok provide businesses with an opportunity to showcase their products in a visually appealing and engaging way beyond live shopping streams.
By creating eye-catching posts, stories, and reels that highlight their products, retailers can increase their reach and exposure to potential customers while appealing to their audience through relevant topics such as ‘how-to’ posts.
Foster Engagement and Community
Just like live streams, retailers have the opportunity to build a sense of community around their products through engagement.
By responding to comments and messages, sharing user-generated content, and hosting giveaways and contests, businesses can create a loyal following of brand advocates who are more likely to recommend their products to others.
Live shopping has emerged as a powerful tool for social commerce, enabling brands and creators to connect with their audiences in real-time and drive sales through engaging and interactive experiences. However, it’s important to note that live shopping is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to a successful social shopping strategy. Brands and creators should also incorporate the social shopping tools mentioned above to achieve their high ROI goals.