See. Want. Buy. The rise of social commerce

by Infor Retail August 25, 2016 Converged Commerce

Sales generated from a variety of activities on social networks tripled from 2014 to 2015. To make it easier for consumers to purchase items directly on their platforms, the big social media players continue to update their e-commerce capabilities and create new ones. Here’s how social media channels are changing the way we shop:

Chatbots
As they continue to evolve into cutting-edge, conversation-based interfaces, chatbots offer new opportunities for social shopping and interaction. Early in 2016, Facebook added chatbots to its Messenger app as part of its e-commerce presence. Retailers can leverage bot-building tools to create personal customer assistants that help shoppers browse and buy. Answers to questions can generate a customer profile that can be used to help make product suggestions, gain insight into how customers use products, and discover what problems customers face. At present, chatbots can’t replace the personalized service of a human operator, but the interface can handle FAQs and perform services when normal customer service may not be available.

Visual search
The increasing sophistication of visual search tools is changing the way people shop online. In late 2015, Pinterest launched a sight driven tool, enabling users to locate a specific item from within an image, and reducing the need to use keywords to describe a product’s characteristics. Users simply crop an object in a pinned image and use it to find and potentially buy similar products.

E-receipts
An e-receipt can help extend the social shopping experience beyond the latest purchase. It’s an opportunity to further engage with shoppers by offering promotions, additional information, feedback opportunities, and encouragement to share purchase details on social media. By providing more social modules in an e-receipt, retailers can interact with their customers after a sale and elevate the buyer-seller relationship to a more personal level.

Mobile commerce
A BI Intelligence report states that by 2020, sales from mobile commerce will make up 45% of total e-commerce. Since 80% of Twitter users access the site through mobile devices, Twitter is making it possible to buy products from a tweet. This kind of social shopping can help reduce one of mobile’s biggest challenges, cart abandonment, by making it easier to make purchases in one place and eliminating the need to enter credit card information on the small screen. For retailers to make the most of social media, paying special attention to mobile will be imperative.

Recommendations from family, friends, or casual online connects remain the most trusted influencers in the buying decision process, and with social and mobile experiences becoming the prevalent ways people communicate, social commerce will continue to grow as a powerful segment of the retail industry.

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