Crescita, E-commerce marketing

Marco Pericci /

Social commerce: what it is and how to do it

Up until recently, social media have been a space dedicated solely to entertainment and sharing. And they still are today but they’ve also gained a broader role as a virtual trading place, where you can buy products in no time.

Social commerce: what it is and how to do it

illustration of Emily Bielski

The so-called social commerce comes from a change in people’s purchasing behavior: the increasingly demanding and digitally-savvy consumers triggered the online sales boom. Such an increase was unquestionably connected to the changes brought about by the pandemic, which ramped up online store shipments.

This is how social media relates to e-commerce. And this is the topic we are going to describe in the following paragraphs, in order to understand what social commerce is and how it can be applied. 

What is Social Commerce?

Social commerce relates to giving consumers the ability to purchase products and services directly on social media, making it easy to share their experience with other users.

Think about how convenient it has become to find and compare products on social platforms, thus skipping the company’s website. Now it’s so simple that a sales volume of $2.9 trillion is expected by 2026. A huge, though predictable, amount considering how smooth and direct the customer journey on social media is: fewer interruptions which allows consumers to easily and immediately complete their purchases.

But where does this trend, called social e-commerce, really start? It stemmed from China, one of the cutting-edge countries in terms of social trends and online stores, but it soon spread to the United States as well, where it reached very high and growing sales peaks, according to the data collected by eMarketer.

And what about Europe? This trend, as expected, has also reached European countries. In Italy, for example, social commerce is definitely on the rise: 90% of adult users are increasingly buying from their smartphones.

How social shopping works

When it comes to online sales and purchases, we must always distinguish social shopping from social commerce: although related, they are not the same thing.

Social shopping involves paid advertisements that show a company’s products, services and deals in the users’ feeds. Essentially, it is an advertising tool that will eventually lead potential customers to the brand’s website or a landing page dedicated to an online store.

Instead, in social commerce, the user’s purchasing process is not interrupted to migrate somewhere else outside the social platform. It keeps the user inside the platform and makes the shopping experience easier, as we mentioned above: no interruptions, no registrations or passwords to remember and enter, just a few clicks to put the product in the cart. In short, it’s extremely simple and user-friendly.

Examples of social commerce

As the purchasing trend on social media increases, it’s natural to wonder which platforms permit the cross experiences in one single virtual space, both as users who relate to each other and share content, and as consumers who select products or services to buy.

Let’s see some examples of social commerce where this trend is growing at a glance.

Social commerce on Facebook

Brands can create real online stores on Facebook and talk with customers through Messenger. Practically speaking, if you want to sell your products to this platform, you can do as follows:

  • Upload your items, describe them in detail and inform your audience on their qualities and benefits.
  • Customize the catalog according to your brand identity.
  • Sell from your brand’s social page.
  • Manage incoming orders.
  • Publish advertisements to promote what you sell.

By doing so, your Facebook social commerce could prove to be a great opportunity to grow your online business.

Social commerce on Instagram

Many people are now shopping on Instagram as well. 

Hence the success of Instagram Shopping, a set of features that allow users to shop directly on Instagram profiles: by clicking on pictures and stories, they can view the company’s products and choose items to buy in a quick and easy way.

So, if your brand already has an account, take the following steps to start your Instagram social commerce:

  • Make sure you have a business profile. Otherwise, you can make one from the settings.
  • Link your business account to the corresponding Facebook page.
  • Link your account to the Facebook catalog, which you can manage directly from Facebook or from e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce.

Once your Instagram store is opened, you will enjoy benefits such as:

  • Shoppable posts and stories → users will immediately learn about your products and buy them from their smartphones.
  • Influencer Tagging → influencers will tag products in their own posts as well.
  • In-app payment → purchases are completed without leaving the social platform.
  • Instagram store → your store is visible on your account and customers will browse through your catalog of items.
  • Explore store → just by tapping the Explore tab, users will see a gallery of products and pick the ones that best suit their interests.
  • Augmented Reality → a recently introduced feature that, through the AR filter, allows people to try on products before buying them. Not yet available to all.

Social commerce on TikTok

TikTok has also shown considerable potential in terms of social commerce. Its huge and growing global community has made this platform an ideal showcase for brands that want to track down new customers and become more popular.

It is no coincidence that last year the famous social media company announced a partnership with Shopify, the e-commerce platform known for its reliability and user-friendliness. This was meant to make it easier for businesses to reach their audience and increase sales. So, if you want to sell on social media and your target audience is fairly young by age, remember to keep an eye on TikTok’s social commerce, because it could provide great opportunities to grow your business.

Social commerce on Pinterest

How does social commerce work on Pinterest? It has to be said that Pinterest was among the first platforms to start in-house sales, releasing buyable pins as early as June 2015. This was encouraged by its visual layout designed for displaying products in the gallery. In fact, in 2018, businesses on Pinterest were allowed to create product catalogs including price, description, stock and link to the brand’s website. This is another interesting way to exploit the potential of this platform.

Advantages of social commerce

By now, the extraordinary business potential of social networks should be clear, together with the advantages that the connection between e-commerce and social media can quickly generate. It is therefore worth using them if you want to grow your online business.

The benefits provided by social commerce are evident and include, first and foremost, the opportunity to use multiple online trading platforms and streamline sales processes. So, if you own a small or medium-sized business and have just started to sell online, you may not have an e-commerce site, yet. You could therefore take the chance to use social platforms. But first of all, carefully consider which products to sell online, pay attention to the online best-sellers and take action accordingly.

If, on the other hand, you have already started an e-commerce business, social commerce could nurture your current online sales, and allow you to explore new business areas beyond your e-commerce site.

Should you decide to embark on this adventure, remember to optimize your warehouse management right from the start: when logistics are effectively handled, it will become easier to cope with an increased volume of orders coming from both e-commerce and social media.

Based on this knowledge, isendu has created a control panel designed to streamline the processes and management of online shops. isendu features a dashboard that will help you keep your workflow under control, especially when a larger quantity of orders needs to be processed. After all, as your online sales volume increases, logistics will also change by requiring more attention and support. isendu will help your business keep dreaming big so it can wind up exactly where you want it to be: its fullest potential.

Try isendu now!

Marco Pericci

Written by:

Marco Pericci

Head of Growth

User explorer. I dream of a world where automation makes humankind happy.

Illustration of:

Emily Bielski

Communication Designer and Illustrator

Emily Bielski is an illustrator from the Midwestern United States. She is currently working towards her MFA in Illustration and Visual Culture from Washington University in St. Louis.

Emily Bielski