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Social Commerce Trends: The Look-Ahead for Sellers

The term “social commerce” is often used to describe shopping through social media channels — like when a customer makes an in-app purchase through an ad on Instagram. 

But social commerce makes up a much broader e-commerce ecosystem, encompassing many areas where commerce and the collective collide.

Product reviews, influencer marketing, livestream shopping — there are many moving pieces to a healthy social commerce strategy. The only real constant is that it’s always changing.

According to a recent Accenture report, social commerce could grow up to three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, from $492 billion to $1.2 trillion by 2025. As social media becomes a force for online product discovery, much of that business will go to growing sellers.

If you’re not already investing in social commerce, now’s the time to start. Here’s a look at some of the latest and most promising social commerce trends, plus actionable steps for how your business can benefit.

The Top 5 Social Commerce Trends

  1. A Mass Migration to Social
  2. Less Influencer Marketing, More User-Generated Content
  3. Smaller Followings Could Mean Larger Impact
  4. Livestream Is Lagging (But Don’t Give Up On It Yet)
  5. AR Shopping and Virtual Try-On

1. A Mass Migration to Social

With increasing fees, confusing rules, and pay-to-play sponsored search, boosting your presence on Amazon isn’t getting any easier. Brands are looking for new ways to get noticed, with nearly half saying they want to be less reliant on a single channel and are ready to lean deeper into social media as an alternative.

Meanwhile, TikTok is in the midst of a noticeable pivot toward social commerce and may have plans for its own fulfillment network. Meta is shifting Shops sellers to its own in-app checkout. And Web3 proponents are pushing for brands to build their own communities.

No matter your long game, social media plays a role. 59% of global users surveyed said they would be more likely to buy from smaller brands on social media and 44% said they would buy from a brand they’d never heard of.

Whether you’re just beginning to scale or struggling to stand out in a crowded niche, a strong social media strategy can increase your success.

✅ Tap Into The Trend:

  • Sell on social. If you’re not already, now is the time to consider selling your product via social media. You probably already have an idea of your best channels, but when in doubt, use data and consumer demographics to prioritize your platforms.
  • Sell smaller. If you’re new to social selling, focus on pushing affordable, impulse-buy products. You can use email marketing and retargeting to nurture new customers toward bigger ticket items.
  • Invest in seamless checkout. Customers experience at least one pain point in 60% of their social media transactions — far more than on brand websites and marketplaces. Use a shopper-friendly checkout system, with multiple payment options and solutions that migrate user data from other platforms or past purchases to your site.

2. Less Influencer Marketing, More User-Generated Content

Trust in brands, celebrities, and mega-influencers is waning.

An April 2023 EnTribe survey found that over half of respondents scroll past posts from influencers and 83% of those surveyed said they’d be more likely to buy from brands sharing content from real customers.

UGC can mean many different things — from marketplace reviews to YouTube unboxings. But the upshot is the same.

Consumers want meaningful opinions from real people — not sponsored content.

For proof of this trend, look no further than Amazon Prime Day. On Prime Day 2022 and 2023, Amazon shoppers flocked to TikTok, instead of the marketplace itself, to find the best deals and personalized recommendations.

Leading brands are already leaning into this trend. A well-targeted TikTok challenge resulted in a 42% lift in brand awareness for makeup brand NYX and challenger brands like Liquid Death are even re-sharing negative user-generated content to increase their reach.

✅ Tap Into The Trend:

  • Run a well-planned hashtag campaign. Whether it’s a branded challenge or a seasonal campaign like #primeday2023, hashtags are a simple and affordable way to generate awareness. They often work best when paired with a contest, challenge, or product giveaway.
  • Boost and repurpose your UGC. Whether you re-share content on your page or story, incorporate it into an ad campaign, or add it to a gallery on your website, think of UGC as the high-ROI marketing gift that keeps giving.
  • Create your TikTok strategy. Reach out to customers directly, run a challenge to crowdsource your own content, or consider investing in Spark ads to leverage your UGC.

3. Smaller Followings Could Mean Larger Impact

Brands are budgeting to maintain or increase their influencer marketing spend in the coming year, but as trust in celebrities and mega-influencers continues to fade, many are turning to nano and micro-influencers.

In China, brands are increasingly working with smaller-scale creators, called Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs).

These are typically unpaid creators with a few hundred to no more than 10,000 followers. These creators gained popularity for insightful product reviews and other useful content. When they promote a product, they’re paid little or nothing, and are — at least in theory — motivated by a genuinely positive experience with the brand.

In early 2023, Garnier deployed 140 nano influencers, selected from a free influencer matching platform, to promote the Aqua Micellar product line in Italy. Influencers were either sent a product test kit or asked to purchase and review a product on Amazon and social media. The campaign resulted in over 1.8 million online impressions, including 1 million on TikTok alone.

As brands shift focus from top-line growth to healthy bottom-line profits, the trend away from mega to micro and nano influencers is likely to continue. While a single post from a well-known influencer can start at over $1,000, working with nano-influencers can cost as little as a product sample.

✅ Tap Into The Trend:

  • Find your loyal fans. You can find your top KOCs, nano-, or micro- influencers, by filtering for your brand on social media, joining an influencer matching platform, working with a specialist agency, or purchasing data.
  • Seed your product. Gifting is a great way to establish new relationships. Reach out directly and get samples into the hands of loyal fans, customers, and creators. If they like it, ask them to review your product on their pages.
  • Measure your results. Get to know these creators and their followers for deeper insight into your brand’s new reach. When you’re sure you’re working with the right partners on the right campaigns, track your KPIs closely to see which partnerships are driving the most impact.

4. Livestream Is Lagging (But Don’t Give Up On It Yet)

With around $514 billion sold on apps like Douyin and Taobao Live in 2022, livestream shopping has seen incredible success in China. For context, that’s Amazon’s total global sales for the year.

Adoption in the US has been much slower. This lag can be largely attributed to differences in culture and availability of goods.

US shoppers attend livestream shopping events primarily for entertainment, whereas Chinese consumers attend them for functional reasons. It’s also going to take further investment and development before the US has the technical infrastructure required to make livestream shopping events sufficiently seamless and engaging for shoppers.

But none of this means livestream shopping is dead in the US.

Walmart, Amazon, and eBay are actively experimenting with livestream shopping. New formats, such as the auction-like format of Poshmark’s Posh Shows, are showing early signs of success, and industry data continues to fuel optimistic predictions for the future of livestream shopping in the US.

✅ Tap Into The Trend:

  • Think conservatively. Don’t start making plans for your own QVC-style shopping feed just yet. If you sell in the US, consider partnering with an e-commerce marketplace that already has livestream shopping infrastructure in place.
  • Tailor your strategy. Carefully consider what goods you’re selling and how you’ll time your livestream events. If you sell in other global markets, do your research to see if livestream makes sense for your business. For example, Latin America may show slightly more promise than US and European markets.
  • Consider alternatives. Other shoppable video formats have seen considerably more traction in the US, including TikTok’s shoppable in-stream ads and videos that target customers who are already passively viewing.

5. AR Shopping and Virtual Try-On

AR try-on and branded social media filters are nothing new, but Snap’s Augmented Reality Enterprise Services (ARES) and recent updates to its Shopping Suite will enable more brands to quickly and easily integrate and monetize AR technologies, both on and off the platform.

According to Snap, affordable sunglasses brand goodr saw a 59% percent increase in revenue per visitor after implementing AR try-on and interactive 3D viewer technology.

Shopping Suite opens the playing field for more merchants to incorporate AR features on social media, as well as on their owned channels, apps, and websites. If the trend sticks, these experiences could quickly become a must for modern shoppers.

Major players like Walmart, Amazon, and Google have already invested in AR try-on, and a growing number of DTC brands are leveraging the technology to create unique shopping experiences.

✅ Tap Into The Trend:

  • Start early. If you’re in fashion, beauty, or accessories, invest in AR now, while it’s still novel. Becoming an early adopter could mean better PR and increased awareness for your brand.
  • Think beyond the filter. AR doesn’t just belong to beauty and apparel. Brands like IKEA, Lego, and Nike have all taken advantage of 3D viewing technology. Consider how your brand could use AR in an unexpected way to help customers engage with your product. Even something as simple as a 3D product demo or instruction guide can go a long way in elevating the experience.
  • Get to know the available tools. Consider starting with Snap, but keep an eye on competing AR offerings that come to the market. Younger startups may be able to offer unique features for a lower price as AR and 3D technology becomes more accessible.

Financial Solutions to Keep You Ahead of the Curve

Your social commerce strategy shouldn’t look like everyone else’s.

Whether it’s freeing up cash flow to boost your targeted ads or elevating your Working Capital to invest in new tech platforms and infrastructure, SellersFi’s complete suite of e-commerce funding solutions gives you the tools you need today to invest in your tomorrow.

Connect with our expert team to learn more about how we can help you grow.

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