TikTok shopping and visual shopfronts are more than buzzwords. For a growing number of DTC brands, they’re a key strategy for increasing sales and scaling to a whole new level.
But with the world of social commerce changing faster than ever, what are the key trends brands should focus on most? From TikTok Shopping to employee ambassadors and virtual goods — we’ve got the inside scoop.
In today’s article, we’re pulling back the curtain on what social commerce is, why it matters, and what the latest industry data has to say about it. We’re also sharing some of the top social commerce trends DTC brands should definitely keep on the radar.
Let’s take a closer look at the changing DTC landscape and discover how social commerce will continue to play an increasingly crucial role.
The scoop on social commerce trends
- What is social commerce?
- Why social commerce?
- The rise of social commerce
- The top 4 social commerce trends changing the face of DTC
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First, what actually is social commerce?
Social commerce is the integration of e-commerce and social media. While retailers have relied on social networks as a valuable promotion channel for years, the growing demand for seamless and instant shopping experiences has given headway to endless e-commerce potential.
Enter social commerce, the phenomenon where customers can hop onto social media and make purchases directly inside the platform — just as easily as grabbing an item in the grocery checkout line.
As the world of online shopping becomes increasingly headless, embracing APIs and bringing the brand experience straight to the consumer (no matter where in the digital world they are 🌍), social commerce is taking a front seat in many an e-commerce marketing strategy.
Let’s dig into the reasons a growing number of DTC brands are actively investing in social commerce and explore some of the biggest wins so far.
Want to learn more about the benefits of headless commerce? Get up to speed on what it is and how it can help you grow your brand, starting with these clear examples of headless commerce done right.
Why social commerce? And why now?
Social commerce is transforming how consumers and brands spend and earn money.
While China is significantly ahead in adopting social shopping, the events of the early 2020s pushed the trend forward in many other countries. In the United States, social buyers increased from over 60 million in 2019 to an estimated 97 million by 2022.
A couple of months after the pandemic broke, social commerce became one of the top sales channels for US brands.
Because here’s the deal with social commerce: It’s the perfect response to shifting consumer demands.
As consumers clung to social media during lockdown, their needs began to change.
In a matter of days, online grocery delivery shifted from a specialty service to a necessity. Uber swooped in with Uber Eats and restaurants either joined or offered their own meal delivery services. As we began to turn a new corner in the era of convenience-led shopping, social media platforms rolled out social selling features — Facebook and Instagram Shops, YouTube video ad builders, Pinterest’s curated shops, and more — empowering consumers to make purchases without ever leaving the app.
So why social commerce? Three simple reasons:
- Social commerce is the perfect response to shifting consumer demands.
- Social commerce puts the “C” in convenience.
- Social commerce helps brands deliver seamless customer experiences.
The rise of social commerce 🤳📈
Pandemic-driven consumer behavior and an increase in spending time online have motivated brands to implement an omnichannel approach to social media.
And the momentum just keeps growing.
Let’s discover more about how quickly social commerce is growing and why DTC brands should pay attention.
How fast is social commerce growing?
When it comes to sales and marketing success, the numbers don’t lie.
In 2020, social commerce generated approximately $475 billion dollars in revenue. With an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.4% from 2021 to 2028, revenues in social commerce are expected to hit — get ready for this — nearly $3.37 trillion by 2028!
We know. We know. We’re still picking our jaws up off the floor.
Why should growing DTC brands be paying attention 👀
With social commerce, there’s a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on a growing number of channels and selling options. Not only can DTC brands reach customers in a more personalized way, they can also provide more meaningful shopping experiences.
From launching quizzes to help customers find the perfect lipstick shade to locking arms with livestream influencers for a more engaging buying experience, social commerce is how brands give the people what they want.
During a recent podcast episode, Amy Baxter from Retail Leader and Lisa Johnston, senior editor of CGT, reveals just how powerful social selling has become.
“It’s really become the number one priority for brands and retailers to be able to reach and serve consumers at every touchpoint and do it seamlessly. So this as a result has meant we’ve definitely seen an increase in social commerce. A lot more brands and retailers are investing in it. We’re seeing more companies making it a core component of their e-commerce strategies.”
Bottom line? Social commerce provides endless possibilities to deliver a hyper-personalized experience no matter where a customer is in their journey with your brand.
The top 4 social commerce trends changing the face of DTC
And finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Let’s get into some of the top social commerce trends changing the face of DTC. Dust off that TikTok account, grab your notepad and get ready to win more sales on social.
1. Putting the consumer at the center of everything — TikTok Shopping
Ring ring, customer-centricity is calling and it’s here to stay.
So of course we had to make it our #1 social commerce trend.
According to Lisa from CGT, “One of the biggest trends mentioned repeatedly at Shop Talk — an industry conference that focuses on the consumer — was putting the consumer at the center of everything.”
Lisa also gave a prime industry example of a brand utilizing this technique via TikTok Shopping.
“e.l.f. Cosmetics is a fantastic example. They’ve been a leader in experimenting with social commerce and they’re quick to act. They experimented with TikTok back in 2019 when the platform was still in its infancy. They developed their #eyeslipsface challenge campaign that really pushed the brand forward.
Today, their videos tagged #eyeslipsface have more than nine billion views. They’ve also experimented with a Christmas album on Triller, they’ve had an NFT, and they’re really a great example of a company that sees tremendous value in social commerce — it’s really paying off for them.”
Not only that, the original branded anthem they created for the #eyeslipsface challenge went viral with 30 million streams outside of TikTok. A true landmark campaign.
Psst… looking to take advantage of TikTok Shopping? Check out this awesome resource.
2. Leveraging the power of employees as ambassadors
From tapping into tech advancements to boosting brand advocacy, DTC organizations are leveraging the power of employees as company ambassadors.
“We’re seeing companies get more serious about investing in their employees, especially through education opportunities,” says Lisa.
“For instance, Levi’s has a machine-learning boot camp that they’ve invested heavily in. There’s a rigorous screening process, but all employees are able to apply. They’ve now graduated just over 100 employees. It pulls them out of their day jobs for eight weeks to really focus on their education and work on real-life use cases.”
Lisa is among many e-commerce experts who believe educational opportunities increase employee engagement and loyalty, transforming team members into ambassadors for the company and evangelists for emerging technology. A powerful combination that could change the course of a brand’s future, forever.
Ready to tap into the power of your people? Start by:
- Identifying current bottlenecks and opportunities
- Hosting a team brainstorming session
- Collecting and prioritizing team ideas
From there, start determining your educational priorities:
- What do you want your employees to learn and why?
- How can this new skill help both your employees and your company excel?
- How can you encourage employees to be more creative and actively contribute innovative ideas?
- How can you help employees learn the skills they need to execute those ideas?
Finally, create and implement. Keep in mind that while change doesn’t happen overnight, a shared vision backed by a clear action plan can absolutely ignite momentum within your team. 💪🏽
3. Launching virtual goods for Gen Z shoppers
Bringing the worlds of gaming and branding together, the rise of virtual goods is becoming a revolutionary trend for DTC brands looking to grab a slice of the growing Gen Z market share.
“For the younger generation, digital experiences are an extension of their lives,” explains Lisa. “They’re willing to spend money to have better experiences there and to look better and feel better in their virtual worlds. This is where they spend a lot of their time, so why wouldn’t they want to spend money to have better virtual experiences?”
Hana Ben-Shabat, the author of Gen Z 360: Preparing for the Inevitable Change in Culture, Work, and Commerce, says:
“When you ask Gen Z what role technology plays in their lives they don’t understand the question — because there is no separation. Technology is life.”
From avatar accessories to digital fashion lines, now is your window of opportunity to create virtual goods for Gen Zers.
To capitalize on this growing trend, DTC brands must discover what kinds of virtual experiences and products Gen Zers in their niche value most.
A simple way to figure that out? Ask!
Utilize questionnaires, surveys, and polls on social media. Hire an influencer to conduct live Q&A videos. And ask your marketing head to conduct Gen Z consumer behavior research.
4. Utilizing custom visual storefronts on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest
DTC brands are hopping on the visual storefront and customization train and are curating their products into themes. Coupled with easy discoverability via tagging, this helps brands draw attention to products in social media feeds and Stories.
Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest all offer visual storefronts allowing shoppers to click on and shop from the images and videos they’re consuming in the apps.
“We have a really engaged audience, so Instagram is a sales generator for us, both by generating customer awareness as well as through Instagram Shopping.”
The future of social commerce is here
As the future of social commerce continues to unfold before us, the DTC brands that will see the most success are those ready to embrace change and focus on the consumer above all else.
At the end of the day, social commerce trends might be considered fads, but for a growing number of DTC brands, they’re golden nuggets of opportunity — ready for the taking.
When you’re ready to make the leap into omnichannel, we can help.
At SellersFi, our team is committed to supporting e-commerce entrepreneurs in achieving their goals. We do this no matter how what’s happening in the world around us. Whether you need funding solutions or growth-maximizing tools, we’ve got you covered. Check out our two-minute demo to learn more about how we can help you succeed in a shifting DTC landscape.