Social E-Commerce: What It Is and Where to Find It

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Social e-commerce has grown in popularity over the past year as retail shifted from in-person purchases to online purchases due to the pandemic. Because of that huge shift in consumer behavior, many social platforms added or enhanced their shopping features to add convenience to the shopping experience. Enter: social e-commerce, the newest way to interact, and shop with your favorite brands.

Social e-commerce in the US accounts for about 4-5% of current worldwide online purchases, but it’s a number that’s steadily growing. Customers are changing their shopping patterns, even as the world begins to reopen brick and mortar locations. China, a leader in digital trends, already saw social e-commerce increase to 11.6% in 2020, and consumer trends indicate that US shoppers will spend around $36 billion by shopping through social media platforms in 2021.

Facebook & Instagram

Both Facebook and Instagram introduced in-app shopping experiences in May 2020 amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Their features, implemented across both platforms, allow shoppers/users to tag products directly in their feed posts and videos. Clicking those product tags leads a customer to view product details and price, hopefully add to cart, and checkout all without ever leaving the platform.


Snapchat implemented shopping features that are similar to Facebook and Instagram. Snapchat now allows retailers to create ads or content featuring products that provide a seamless, in-app checkout process for customers – again, without leaving Snapchat. However, Snapchat conversions are more heavily focused on ads, requiring a minimum advertising spend of $5 per day, whereas Facebook and Instagram don’t require an ad spend to get sales.

Tik Tok

Tik Tok became a buzzword in the marketing world over a year ago, and they’re poised to become a valuable marketplace for retailers. Although Tik Tok is geared toward a younger audience, discount their buying power at your own risk. With over 100 million monthly active users, Tik Tok has steadily gained market share among the competing social platforms. Recognizing an opportunity, Tik Tok was quick to add shopping to their app, but it’s still got a way to go before it’s as seamless as Instagram.

At the time of writing, Tik Tok shopping works via a small button on the bottom of the video. When clicked, it takes customers to the retailer’s web page within the app, which means shopping on Tik Tok is still website-based. Consequently, Tik Tok conversion relies on websites that are optimized for mobile. In other words, if you want to sell on Tik Tok, you need to ensure your site is scores well in Google’s mobile testing tool.

Kinks to Be Worked Out

Proper Attribution

Customers might not be ready to click ‘purchase’ right then and there on a social platform. As such, Facebook and Instagram both have some work to do when it comes to attributing later website visits to that initial connection on the social platform. This has proven to be even more difficult with the new implementation of data privacy initiatives that limit user and data tracking between apps and websites.

Product Limitation

If your storefront has more than 50 products, it can be time-consuming to add every product to social platforms. Currently, Facebook and Instagram shops are associated, so adding a product to Facebook adds it to your connected Instagram, and vice versus. That means you’ll need additional time to add products to Tik Tok or Snapchat. This is where a marketing agency can ease that burden.

Whether you’re a small business or renowned brand, there’s opportunity to leverage the new social e-commerce shopping technology, and micro target your niche audiences. Small businesses will profit by extending their e-commerce reach beyond traditional website ecommerce purchases while building consumer trust knowing that their purchases are protected on through a third-party platform. Meanwhile, larger brands can make it even easier for customers to purchase their favorite and best-selling products.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can introduce, and strategize social e-commerce to your retail brand, contact us today to set up an exploratory meeting.






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