What is the opportunity for Social Commerce?

Alex Blaikley,

Full disclosure: I have previously downplayed the impact of social commerce on consumer behaviour and subsequently, marketing. My view has changed since the launch of Facebook Shops. 

Social commerce has been around for a few years already. YouTube launched ‘shoppable true-view’ in 2016, eBay introduced ‘Shop the Look’ in 2018, Instagram unveiled ‘Check out’ in March 2019 and of course, Tencent has made it a central pillar of their growth proposition. 

It is difficult to get hold of reliable data or case studies to highlight success or how much the market has grown. From the lack of noise around YouTube and eBay, it is safe to assume that these have not delivered as big an impact as initially hoped. 

I can think of reasons why this may have been the case and for those reasons, I believe that marketers should take Facebook Shops seriously enough to start making plans in earnest in anticipation for the UK roll-out. 

Reasons why Facebook Shops is different: 

  1. Scale: Whilst YouTube and eBay are not small, Facebook has enormous scale across it's platform portfolio to have enough activity at any given time. 
  2. Data: Because of it's scale, Facebook can leverage the high-quality data it has on us, to serve a better shopping experience. 
  3. Solid eCommerce foundation: Through product launches and continuous improvement, Facebook plays a big role in ecommerce, as part of the customer journey but importantly also at the end of that journey. 
  4. Partners: Partnering with Shopify and other specialists will ensure a level of standardisation that neither YouTube nor eBay had the scale to achieve. Facebook is also looking for retail partners and intends to offer a loyalty programme to customers. 
  5. Creative freedom: Initial insight suggests that Facebook will make it as easy as possible for advertisers to embrace without having to invest significant resource into making this work.
  6. COVID-19: Creating a virtual store front for brands will create an easier transition for consumers who have been forced to embrace ecommerce as their main source of retail therapy and necessity.

Getting the balance right between brand and performance will not be simple. Branding is still important, even in a digital world and consumer behaviour has not changed so significantly that they do not require to trust or know a brand before purchasing in many categories. For consumers who value convenience and cost, Shops will help create a shopping journey with less friction.  

There’s much talk of Shops taking aim at Amazon. It’s bigger than that. Shops is Facebook’s move to take on Amazon, Google, eBay and affiliates and potentially take advantage of a shift in consumer behaviour. 

Considerations for Marketers: 

  1. How much budget and resource will I require to make this work?  
  2. Where should I take budget and resource from, to make this work? 
  3. How does it affect the Customer’s Journey and current media planning and buying models? 
  4. How can I use first party data? 

Using our unique ROAR planning process, we will be able to help answer these questions and start to plan for this huge opportunity to reach and convert new customers.

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