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Yuliia Honcharova
Head of Marketing at Gepard
Facebook shopping Instagram shopping social commerce

Leverage Social Commerce To Expand Your Omnichannel Strategy

9 min read
Published: February 8, 2022
Updated: September 5, 2023

Social eCommerce has become a huge part of the modern shopping experience, and there are definitive reasons for it. All of the popular networks took social eCommerce into account when developing their platforms and developed the tools meant to take advantage of it. The article you’re going to read is a manual to the three big social media players: Instagram, Facebook, and, of course, TikTok.

What Is Social Commerce?

Social commerce is the usage of social networks for selling the products and services, including all the operations from advertising and promotions to after-sales services. According to Investopedia, social commerce uses networking websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as vehicles to promote and sell goods and services. “Share” buttons, official pages of the e-shops and reviews from the social media users were the first tools of social commerce.

However, social commerce has developed greatly since then—nowadays the whole shopping experience can happen without buyers having to leave the social media network they’re on: everything from choosing the product to making the payment transaction happens on one page.

Social eCommerce Examples

Using social media as a channel to offer users products to buy directly from their newsfeed is another definition of social commerce. This means that you can easily come up with a few examples from your everyday experience.

Depending on personal preferences and the algorithms, these social eCommerce opportunities can include handmade goods marketed through Instagram accounts, bank products through WhatsApp chats and designer clothes through reviews from fashion vloggers on Youtube.

The social eCommerce industry grew significantly in 2020. During the COVID-19 crisis, the global market was projected to reach a revised size of $604.5 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 31.4% over the 2020-2027 period.

Marketing blogger Jeff Bullas praises the following four brands as some of the top market players who succeed with their social media marketing strategy:

  • Nordstrom, that pins the “popular on Pinterest” label on goods that are advertised online Coca-Cola, that personalized its labels on bottles in stores and then invited its social media fans to post photos of its signature soda with the hashtag #ShareACoke.
  • Lolly Wolly Doodle, a fashion brand that allows subscribers to create and order their own clothes right on its Facebook page.
  • Starbucks, that awards bonus points to customers who unlock mayor’s badges on Foursquare.

Social Commerce vs. eCommerce

What’s the difference between social commerce and eCommerce? That’s a simple but important distinction to make. Social commerce is one of the eCommerce channels that deals with selling goods and services through social media platforms. It can also be called social shopping. On the other hand, eCommerce is a wider term meaning all sellers’ interactions with a particular brand’s products on the Internet (official website, third-party retailers, marketplaces, etc.). By combining social media and eCommerce, brands take advantage of social advertising to simplify the shopping experience. The algorithm of acquisitions within one platform looks simple: “see, click, buy.”

Some time ago, it involved redirecting people from a social media platform to an eCommerce website for further purchase. Since then, technology has switched to what we’re all accustomed to: making a purchase (or at least, deciding to) right on the social media account. The marketing approach got transformed as well. The shift from a nice-to-have budget addition for the niche brands to a full-cost item was rather fast-paced. Even the big players don’t have the luxury of dismissing social commerce as an option.

The beauty brand Glossier is a good example of a cohesive social commerce strategy. From the beginning, the company put their products at the center of a feed. The shop tags, appearing in the recent posts, don’t contrast with that.

Instagram Shopping Feature

According to Facebook’s internal data, almost 50% of Instagram users make an in-app purchase on a weekly basis. This is not surprising, since people spend more time on these digital platforms than anywhere else. The simplicity and entertainment element of sales attract people’s attention and increase conversion rates. Instagram social commerce has become an inventive way to synthesize the comfort of online shopping and the emotionality of offline strolls.

So, let’s get to the practical details. Instagram Shopping is an Instagram feature that allows users to shop directly from the photos or videos in any section of the app. When you create a store, you can choose how purchases are made: on your site, on Facebook, on Instagram, or through personal messages. Customers can go to the store through the company’s Instagram profile, feed, and stories. In the store, they can explore the assortment and go to the products they like.

The basic functions of the Instagram shop:

  • Shopping Tags – product marks in posts and Stories, allowing you to get information right in the feed/description of publications.
  • The Storefront – product showcase within the platform, a section in the Instagram app with navigation to find products and favorite brands.
  • Collections – a feature that lets you customize your store by selecting products and grouping them by topic
  • Product Page – up-to-date information about your product: prices, detailed descriptions, media files, and any and all marks of that product in your posts.
  • Ads with product tags in the posts and Stories section – allow you to direct viewers to the company’s website or to the direct checkout on Instagram.

What Are The Functions Of Instagram Shop?

Checkout on Instagram is essentially a fully fledged marketplace (for now, available only in the USA). With Facebook Pay, users can buy and pay for items directly within the app. There’s also an additional functionality available:

  • “Shopping from creators” – You can buy goods directly from the favorite bloggers and everyone else who has chosen the appropriate profile type.
  • “Product launches” – Companies will be able to announce new launches on Instagram, and users can learn more information and set reminders about the start of sales.
  • “Shopping live” – You can sell goods and communicate with users in real-time streams.

Take, for example, @gaalparis, the sophisticated brand of French-born apparel. They have a noticeable Shop field above the “Subscribe” and “Send a direct message” buttons. On top of that, they tag the clothing items in almost every post, so that the power of beautiful visuals doesn’t go to waste.

Now that you know why it’s beneficial to have an Instagram shop, let’s figure out if you’re eligible to have one. Here are the general requirements to be aware of:

  • Your business is in a supported region. Look up here.
  • You comply with the rules of commerce and the agreement for sellers – Instagram Community Terms of Use.
  • The products also meet the requirements of this social network.
  • You have your own registered website with a domain where you sell your products You must provide and prove ownership of the domain through which you sell.
  • Your business account looks reliable and active: you have a large number of subscribers.

Also, make sure that you have the latest version of the app installed and that you have set up the purchases feature. From there, there should be no real issues with how to set up an Instagram shop. The action plan is this:

1. Open your account and click the Menu icon (three horizontal bars) in the upper right corner of the screen.

2. In the pop-up window, select Settings.

3. Click on the Company icon and select Purchases (only available for businesses that are approved for Instagram Shopping).

4. Click Continue and select the product catalog you want to link to your account. You can upload it in two ways: using Facebook Business Manager or using an affiliate eCommerce platform.

5. Click on Done.

Voila, all that is left is to ensure that the catalog contains all the relevant information about your products/services. This is the description, size range, cost and aesthetically appealing photos.

Facebook Commerce

Facebook Shop is a feature similar to the one for Instagram business owners. Furthermore, it went live a couple of months ahead of Instagram Shopping: it was launched on May 20, 2020.

Facebook e-shop is a great opportunity not just to introduce customers to your products or services, but to sell them immediately while they are excited about getting their hands on that thing. In fact, Facebook users spend an average of 38 minutes a day scrolling popular social networks. And a good chunk of that time goes into Facebook shopping. That’s quite a lot of time, considering it happens daily!

Facebook advantages include:

  • A flexible selection of settings that allow you to inform people in a timely manner about various promotions and discounts, as well as grouping products into easy-to-understand categories and collections;
  • No limit on the number of products you can add;
  • Ability to mention products in posts, stimulating user interest;
  • Running products ads from the store;
  • Putting your products in the Facebook Marketplace, where even more potential customers will notice them;
  • Analysis of statistics: the number of clicks, views, and purchases from this section.

Before you can use a Facebook Shop, you must:

  • Have a business page on this social network.
  • Link it to your Instagram profile.
  • Comply with the agreement for merchants.
  • Sell physical items. This means no digital or downloadable items from your Facebook storefront page.
  • Refer to a valid bank account.
  • Have a tax identification number (depending on where your business is located).

What Are The Requirements For Sellers On Facebook?

The rest calls for little effort:

1. Open Page Settings.

2. Select Templates and Tabs and click Add Tab.

3. From the drop-down list, select Shop.

4. Done!

Yet, you may need to set up the store details, such as: add a catalog, specify your type of business, add your tax registration number, determine the type of goods you plan to sell, as well as determine available shipping options, set return policies and provide an email for customer service.

@heyflourist is a Facebook shop example that perfectly fits into the overall look of the page. The products in the sidebar section seamlessly flesh out the colorful yet tasteful (in every kind of sense) brand image.

What else does a company need to employ the social commerce Facebook ecosystem to its fullest? A payment system. Then meet Facebook Pay, unified online service for Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, launched in November 2019.

The service allows you to send money to other users, buy games and content within games, buy tickets to various events, make donations, sell and buy things in integrated stores and groups, and promote your products using Facebook ads.

To make payments, you need to link your bank card to your online account. This service supports most credit and debit cards (Mastercard, Visa), as well as PayPal. Once the users choose their preferred method of payment using this service, they don’t have to enter the necessary payment information every time they make a transaction. There’s the history of payments available and you can also select the currency. Payments can be made in dollars at the bank’s exchange rate.

TikTok Social Commerce

TikTok can be rightfully called the most discussed network of 2020, although it is a newcomer to the world of social media. Nowadays, the question isn’t even how TikTok became so popular. A more important question is: what are the prospects of TikTok social commerce? They are definitely worth the attention—at least, Shopify believes that.

The network’s audience has become older, meaning more solvent adults got exposed to the content. Brands that have taken notice are already taking advantage of all the features and benefits of TikTok. They are building a community around themselves and their product. Figuring out how brands can monetize TikTok was only a matter of time. TikTok already has experimented with adding eCommerce links to brand profiles, running “Buy Now” buttons for video ads and providing a “Hashtag Challenge Plus” eCommerce feature. That was before the recent big news about the collaboration with Shopify.

Can You Sell On Tik Tok?

The Shopify stores can now use key features of the TikTok For Business advertising cabinet without leaving the Shopify admin panel. The benefits are these:

  • One-click installation of TikTok Pixel to track conversions and collect information for targeting;
  • A single point of control for TikTok campaigns to track their effectiveness right in the Shopify interface;
  • Precise targeting by geo, gender, age, interests, behavior, etc;
  • Creative tools that automatically turn product photos and videos into top advertising content.

Nice bonus: TikTok is offering $300 in free promotional credit to users who sign up for a new TikTok For Business account. Regarding its social retailing plans, TikTok representatives don’t go into much detail. However, they obviously want to expand the feature toolset, focusing on exposing the Shopify stores to the broader audience and the ability to browse for them directly in the app.

Expand Your Omnichannel Strategy With Automation

Social retailing is already a game-changer in the social commerce field. It’s more than a trend now since it’s changing the expectations of the buyers. This means changes in the interaction between the brands and consumers to provide mutual success. Your omnichannel strategy only wins from the ease of purchase that people are asking for.

While we’re on the subject of choosing a winning system for automating your product data-related processes, consider the Gepard platform. The reasons to check if it fits your business are numerous. You know now what a social commerce Instagram approach is. Can you guess the key element to not losing a customer until the checkout? That’s right, product data is what convinces him/her to proceed and the decision will be finalized depending on data validity, accuracy and platform optimization.

Gepard software takes care of that by implementing a structured and centralized data management workflow. It automates product data transformation and allows businesses to smoothly adapt their product data to the various platforms’ data structure requirements. The enriched content and seamless product data delivery mean that you can conquer new sales channels faster and more efficiently.

Don’t take our words for it. Request a personalized demo to see how Gepard can help you enrich and syndicate your content. You’ll get some insights, for sure!

How To Sell On Social Networks

Yuliia Honcharova
Written by Yuliia Honcharova
Head of Marketing at Gepard
18+ years in Digital Marketing, SEO, SEM. Driving the strategy, planning, and execution of the company's marketing initiatives to achieve its international business objectives. Created and implemented Digital marketing and SEO strategies for businesses in varied domains including eCommerce.

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