Retailers are still not capitalising on social commerce boom… and it’s insane!

Yahoo first coined the phrase social commerce back in November 2005. Since then, many platforms and brands have tried to harness the concept. As happens with innovation, some early efforts were unsuccessful. Things are wholly different now. At a time when retailers are fighting tooth and nail to gain an advantage it’s insane that retailers aren’t capitalising on social commerce. You could be making hay, while the sun shines.

And why do we believe this?

  • According to Experian, social and search is responsible for 54% of all visits to retailer sites
  • Global social commerce revenue is projected to be $30 billion this year
  • Yet the number of retailers embracing social commerce is miniscule. Go and take a look at your favourite retailer and see if they’re selling through social…

Three compelling points – I rest my case, Your Honour! We probably shouldn’t just stop there, but you get the gist.

The opportunity is significant. More importantly, it’s tangible. Grab your device of choice and take a quick surf around the internet. A few simple search strings later and you’ll receive a plethora of data affirming the point.

Retailers will (understandably) argue that our High Streets are tougher and more competitive than ever. Their challenge is driving sustainable (let alone incremental) footfall and click rates – even Tesco has been struggling of late.

So, if there’s a channel proven to drive 54% of visitation, why hasn’t there been a stampede to adopt it? The answers are simple and threefold:

  • Too few people at the top of the budget tree truly understand social and how to harness its phenomenal and proven power. Sadly, until that changes, the required budgets won’t be allocated and brands will continue to miss out
  • Brand and ecommerce teams are not aligned. Brand, typically, owns social and run lovely campaigns. Sadly, these are all too often lacking the immediate drive-to-purchase mechanic. Now, if ecommerce owned the channel, their mission would be drive-to-purchase – and surely that’s the intended outcome all along?
  • The retailers who have adopted social, have (broadly speaking) done so to manage customer services. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s a very big step in the right direction! We work with many household name retailers, delivering their required strategies. It’s great work and we love it. But it’s time to take another step forward.

On any given week in retail marketing press, you’ll see column inches debating the most effective way to influence consumers spend: do you use Experiential and amplify on social? Do you stick to traditional channels? What about the Mobile Shopper and Shopper Marketing? Oh and don’t forget in-store comms. There’s a lot to chart – we get it.

Here’s the bit we struggle with: nearly every retail brand now has an app, ecommerce proposition and social footprint (of sorts). Yet, until such time as the retailers integrate all of these channels with drive-to-buy content at the click of a button, they will be missing out on the cash filling the tills of the smart retailers who’ve adopted social commerce.

To me, it’s so logical: we create a connection between consumer and brand/product, and we’ve created an impulse to buy – the consumer wants to spend their cash. But wait! We’re now going to make you go elsewhere, through numerous clicks, by which point Mr or Miss Consumer has either given up or impulse has been replaced by rationale (due to the amount of time taken) and the sale is lost.

Social works – consumers love it. The stats don’t lie. More importantly, brands ARE generating significant revenue streams from effective and data-driven strategies.

Social commerce is here to stay, and demand will only increase. It’s time to get on board.

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