1. Customer First
  2. Micro-Targeting
  3. Unified Experience
  4. Ability to Manage Data Across Channels
  5. A Mindset Shift

For today’s enterprise retailers, consumers expect seamless omni-channel shopping experiences on every device and at every touchpoint. In addition to web stores, mobile apps, and voice commerce technology, this includes social media too. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are no longer just for building engagement and influencing shoppers, but also for creating new sales opportunities. A great example is a recently released feature from Instagram, where the channel makes it easier for users to shop when they’re in the mood.

Given the time spent on social media by American consumers —anywhere from 2 hours/day for the average person to 9 for teenagers — social commerce is poised to be an exciting revenue generator. That is if brands and retailers can crack the code to social shopping. Unfortunately, most companies still lack the tools and expertise to execute a successful social commerce strategy.

Since commercetools has been working with companies to explore and develop social commerce offerings, we have identified five key areas that are necessary to focus on in order to make the leap from building engagement and influence on social media to successfully selling:

1. Customer First:
Many brands still consider the web their most important channel and look to SEO/SEM as the driver for their clicks. However, the market has already moved squarely into a post-web and app-centric world, where the search engines that used to drive traffic aren’t even available. It’s incumbent upon brands to entice and lead customers into the concept of social shopping, instead of thinking about how to launch product campaigns purely on web stores.  Retailers must change their strategy to drive direct connections with their clients using compelling content and product opportunities that matter on whatever device and channel the customer happens to be using.

Retailers and brands must change their approach to serve customers first, rather than channels first.

2. Micro-Targeting:
Companies that are exploring social selling have begun to understand they need to shape a compelling message to their customers so that they take immediate action. Social media platforms allow brands to laser in on their audiences’ unique preferences and tastes, which means that generic campaigns often do not work.
The micro-targeting capabilities of social media allow brands to test and target specific messages to specific groups and hone them so they understand which media and messages create an action and which are simply ignored.

Traditional mass-marketed messaging campaigns will not work to drive social commerce opportunities.

3. Unified Experience:
Customers must have a brand experience in social media that is in alignment with the brand experience they have in the store, on the web and wherever they encounter the brand. This consistency is difficult, but not impossible, to build across social media platforms. It is essential to retain customer loyalty and create an experience that motivates shopping behavior.

4. Ability to Manage Data Across Channels:
Many commerce approaches rely on the web as the central hub of the digital business, but success in social selling requires a platform agnostic approach. Companies must be able to easily manipulate product data across the full enterprise and having a single source of data for all channels provides that capability.

Having a back-end solution that supports multiple sales channels and allows retailers and brands to set content and pricing by channel is key. 

5. A Mindset Shift:
Merchandisers and category managers must be trained to see that social channels can drive immediate revenue – not just build influence for a web or in-store purchase. Social media must be viewed as more than just serving up compelling landing pages where an expected jump to the web store is the only way to purchase.

When brands keep customers in their social channels, where they’re already loyal and engaged, they have a better chance of conversion.

Integrating commerce to social channels will require deeper insights into how customers use these channels so that commerce opportunities are presented in ways that flow with customers’ social media usage patterns. Building and leveraging trusted brand experiences that evolve into trusted sales opportunities is the pathway to success.

Social Commerce Solution from commercetools
As we’ve seen the opportunities for social commerce continue to evolve, we developed a Social Commerce Solution that can add purchasing capability to your social channels in about three weeks. Brands are seeing results when they invest in understanding how consumer buying behavior differs on social media versus other channels, and commercetools can help shape your product delivery to meet the conditions of each social channel. 

Done correctly, social commerce conversion rates and revenue models can be developed to return sales opportunities in a way that traditional marketing and advertising campaigns cannot deliver.