Who’s going to take the lead in social commerce?
25 May 2012
We’ve all enjoyed the spoof product reviews that go viral. But after years of virtual purchasing and enjoying the freedom shopping from home provides, I finally succumbed and posted a review of a product bought online - and it felt good. Posting anonymously allowed me to be as harsh as necessary and hiding behind a pseudonym meant that I wouldn’t be ridiculed for taking the time to review something as mundane as a TV. This gallant effort was my contribution - a ‘thank you’ if you like, to the hundreds of reviews which inform my online purchases.
The humble user review is a small but important feature in the world of social commerce and brands embracing social media have the potential to leverage sales in this space. According to a report by Booz & Co, social commerce sales are expected to reach $30bn globally within five years. It’s therefore no surprise that retailers are keen to invest time and money into their social channels.
Sociable Labs recently reported that 50% of eCommerce site visitors are logged into Facebook. With this in mind, it would seem simple that retailers should target people where they spend their time - placing a storefront directly into Facebook to allow users to make quick purchases without having to leave the site. But is it as straightforward as it seems? Judging by the recent news that Gap and J.C. Penny have opened and closed storefronts on Facebook, it would seem not.
Digitas reported that 55% of users are not comfortable giving their credit card details via social media and the Booz & Co found that 73% of people would not purchase goods in this way due to concerns related to security and privacy.
Assuming that the concerns surrounding security can be addressed, retailers who give users a real reason for buying via social media stand the best chance of success in my opinion. Having a shop front on Facebook alone won’t guarantee sales. People will be more willing to engage with brands that offer something in return. For example, giving people the opportunity to voice their ideas, provide feedback or review a new product will give them a reason to talk about a brand.
Seventy-five percent of social media users agree that they would be more likely to purchase a product that a friend openly endorses via social media, so it’s surely worthwhile to initiate those discussions. Retailers should think carefully about whether their products are right for Facebook. I’d be happy for my Facebook friends to know that I’ve bought an album or a book. But I’m not sure I’d want my friends to know that I’m posting reviews of TVs. I’ve perfected an unscientific method of sniffing out the reviews you can trust. I think a profile picture and a dash of humility helps. Given the opportunity to look at a product reviewed by someone you know and trust is infinitely more persuasive.
So, who’s going to take the lead in this space and what’s the answer to getting it right? Whilst I believe creating a shop front within a platform such as Facebook isn’t the solution, there’s a great deal of value to be gained for retailers who create the space for those discussions to take place. Allow me to ‘like’ or comment on your product, and chances are, some of my friends will take a look to see what the fuss is all about. Allow me to post anonymously. And if you want to engage me where I’m usually having fun or chatting with friends, please make sure you raise a smile or entice me with something exclusive (or a big juicy carrot), otherwise I’m likely to politely close the door.
Gary Glozier, creative director, TH_NK