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What is Social Commerce?

There have been different evolutions of retail since humans first began participating in commerce. Today, online shopping demonstrates how modern retail looks like. From e-commerce websites and their apps came social commerce, another avenue in which consumers can sell and buy products online.

Social commerce is social networking’s sites way of catering to the commercial needs of its users. It’s also one of their ways to adapt to today’s ever-changing digital landscape.

Besides their ads with targeting features, social commerce allows sellers and businesses to market their products while selling them to prospective buyers. It has its benefits and differences from typical retail and e-commerce sites and apps but with a similar purpose.

You may have already seen or heard about it, but in case you haven’t used it yet, there are things you should know about social commerce. We’ll discuss them more in detail through this source material.


Social commerce definition

Social commerce is the ability to purchase from a third-party company within the native social media experience. It’s a way of using social network communities as a vehicle to drive e-commerce sales.

This online commerce model moves social media beyond its traditional role in commerce as a place for discovering goods. It does so by encouraging users to complete the purchase process without leaving their preferred apps.

Instead of going to another website to complete your purchases, social commerce allows you to do it on social media apps. You can also browse and compare similar products on them as well.

Right now, social networking sites are still continuously working to improve their social commerce features to provide users with an excellent user experience. For its future, social commerce is projected to be massively profitable. According to a published report from September 2020, social commerce will drive $604 billion in sales by 2027.


Popular social commerce platforms

So far, three popular social networking sites have established well-known social commerce platforms. While other sites aren’t far behind, they’re still in the experimenting stages. Here are the three popular ones where you can shop or sell:


Facebook Shops

Facebook’s social commerce tool is called Facebook Shops, which was introduced in 2020. It’s a revamped version of their first social commerce tool, Marketplace, still available in some countries.

Businesses with a Facebook page can use it as a host to sell their products on Facebook Shops. Any business entity and individual can set up their shop and sell their products as soon as they’re done doing so.

Facebook also allows sellers to import their inventory from a partner platform to Shops. Otherwise, sellers can upload their products’ information via a spreadsheet.

Users can visit Facebook Shops via Facebook’s mobile app. It has its designated tab on the app that users can tap if they want to shop. In addition, they can communicate with sellers and vice versa via Messenger, asking questions and offering support.

The Facebook Shops tab on the app features products based on users’ preferences, encouraging discovering products organically (unpaid means). After finding a product they like, buyers can purchase it on the app.


Instagram Shopping

Instagram Shopping was first introduced in 2017 and was relaunched in 2020 as “a set of features that allow people to easily shop your brand’s photos and videos all across Instagram.” – Instagram. It’s directly linked to Facebook Shops, a requirement for sellers to sell their products on Instagram.

Sellers must link their Instagram business account to a Facebook business profile to enter and sell. Once they’ve completed that, they can upload an existing product catalog or create a new one for Instagram Shopping.

Instagram Shopping is currently available to businesses in over 70 countries. It allows users to tap on images and stories to view products featured on them, which effectively utilizes Instagram’s visual nature for creative social commerce. Also, it offers an in-app checkout feature and an alternative to process purchases on business websites.


Buyable Pins (Pinterest)

Pinterest first released buyable pins in June 2015. It only had 30 million back then, but it doubled up to 60 million after three months. 

Sellers can create Buyable Pins by creating a Pinterest business account or converting their personal account to business. Then, they should integrate their account with one of the e-commerce platforms partnered with Pinterest, which includes Shopify, SalesForce Commerce Cloud, BigCommerce, IBM Commerce, and Magento. Once your application to connect your e-commerce site to Buyable Pins is approved, you can start pinning your products on Pinterest.

Buyable Pins have an “Add to Bag” button that shoppers can click to buy products they like. These pins allow them to purchase items without leaving Pinterest. According to Shopify, they also have a high average order value of sales, which stands at 50%.


The key benefits of social commerce

Social commerce offers plenty of benefits for businesses and consumers alike. Here are its more distinct and valuable positives:


Friction-free purchase journey 

One of the social commerce’s most welcome benefits is the shorter purchase journey for shoppers. They won’t be taken to another website when checking out an item they want to purchase. In addition, there’ll be no need to create another account since they can complete their purchases on their preferred social media apps.

For businesses, a friction-free purchase journey for their customers means fewer of them will abandon their carts. Checkout options are quicker with social commerce, so there’ll be fewer shoppers who’ll commit cart abandonment, increasing conversion rates.


Reach more potential customers and discover new brands

Social media usage increases consistently every year regarding the user population and time spent on different platforms. Social commerce provides consumers with another platform to discover new brands they haven’t yet, particularly small businesses. 

Small businesses can use social media to compete in a leveled playing field against bigger companies because they’re all on platforms to reach a similar number of potential customers.

Social commerce is a great opportunity for businesses to magnify their online presence to increase brand awareness. For consumers, it’s an easier way to find and purchase products that they want and discover new brands they can buy from.


Encourages feedback and recommendations

Social media enhanced the power of word of mouth. Now consumers have somewhere they can express their thoughts and feelings about a recent purchase they just used or currently using. Even users outside of their network can see them, which can influence their perception of the business that sold the product being reacted to.

It’s a significant advantage for shoppers because they can easily communicate with sellers and review products on social media. They can inquire about more information about products they like. Also, they can request to return them or a replacement as soon as they find something wrong with the product they received.

Social commerce streamlines the connection between customers and brands. Using it gives businesses a centralized location of reviews about their products. Users can see them not just on business profiles or product pages but also on posts by other users.

Also, since shoppers can’t test products online, reviews become much more valuable. They’re key to attracting potential customers since they can get an insight into their products by reading reviews from prior customers. It’s the most reliable piece of information they can access, and they can do so easily on social media.


Gather useful data

Besides reviews, social media also provides businesses access to their potential customers’ social profiles. In addition, they can also look at analytics to gain insight into their shops’ performance and sales.

They can gather data to improve their customers’ shopping experience and identify their shopping habits through the analytics provided by their chosen social commerce platform. With that, they can make a bigger impact on their target market and find ways to retain customers.


The future of social commerce

Brands have been on social media to use it for marketing and advertising for several years to today. However, social commerce is about to change that because it signals that commerce will usher in the next phase of social networking.

Since social commerce is still in its experimental stages, it displays an abundance of potential that businesses and consumers can explore. It certainly works because otherwise, popular brands like Nike wouldn’t rely on social commerce.

Brands also recognize that their potential customers are constantly looking for easier ways to shop online. They want to click on call-to-action buttons that will let them complete purchases as soon as they can, and that’s what social commerce provides.

Because of those benefits, the future of social commerce looks bright. As far as its landscape is concerned, there have been some predictions about it.

Social media marketing strategies will be integrated with social commerce. Brands will shift towards using analytics and data insights to understand users’ social behavior and produce relevant content to promote products. Also, user-generated content (UGC) will remain a reliable source of information for users and social commerce brands, which is a significant benefit.


Editor’s Note on Social Commerce:

Social commerce allows businesses to make money through social media and provides consumers with an easier online shopping experience. Get more information and updates about other online shopping-related news here at Consider The Consumer to stay in touch with what’s latest in the world of commerce.

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