Social commerce has taken the world by storm. And much of that is being pioneered in China, home to the world’s biggest e-commerce industry.
The question is whether social shopping is just a fad or is interactive e-commerce the future for online retail?
According to eMarketer, 55% of the Gen-Z cohort in the U.S. and almost as many millennials say their purchases are influenced by social shopping or social media browsing.
To capitalize on this behavior, companies are relying on various features to engage their audiences, boost e-commerce sales and improve the overall shopping experience, such as through livestreaming, chat rooms, gaming, team purchases, music videos, influencer marketing, newsletters, visual content and private messaging. All of these experiences are designed to influence the audiences' purchase decision on the social media platforms.
Here are four companies leading social shopping and commerce in 2020
Facebook — The world’s largest social media site, Facebook had 1.73 billion daily active users on average for March 2020. The company introduced Facebook Shops in May, allowing businesses to set up free online storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. People can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. In Facebook Shops, users can message a business through WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, just like asking a shop assistant in a physical store. This social shop feature makes it easier for different users to inquire and ultimately make purchases using social media.
Pinduoduo — China’s largest interactive commerce platform, Pinduoduo (PDD) has a recommendations-based model that offers “team purchase,” gaming and livestreaming on its mobile app. PDD is also available on WeChat, the most popular social media app in China, in the form of a mini program. Its team purchase feature allows consumers to form teams to obtain a lower price and make a purchase. Consumers can rope in their social contacts into a team purchase through the sharing of links on WeChat, or join an existing team initiated people they do not know.
Instagram — With more than 200 million visitors per day, Instagram allows merchants to integrate their e-commerce sites with their Instagram account for social shopping. On Instagram Shop, businesses can tag product images and direct users to specific websites. About 70% of shoppers use Instagram for product discovery — according to Facebook, the parent company.
Pinterest — Joining these social media networks is Pinterest, the image-sharing and social media service. Social media users go to Pinterest to shop through catalogs, advertisements and what others are bookmarking, or ‘pinning’. About 83% of Pinterest users have made a purchase based on content they saw from brands on the social network. With "pins" and "boards," users can post images that can be saved, shared and discussed. It also allows merchants to upload videos about products, thereby strengthening their shopping features and educating would-be customers about their new products.