Friday Mar 22, 2013

The Path to a Social Sales Explosion

fireworkExperts love to pronounce the death of things.  Sadly, Social Sales has found its way onto various lists of the dearly departed. I say “sadly” because not only is it still kicking, but with integrated technologies in place and just one major impediment remaining, consumer purchasing on social platforms will explode and change shopping forever.

A New York Times article said while 15% of luxury fashion brands were trying out Facebook shops in 2011, only 2% are now. The PriceWaterhouseCoopers 2013 report showed 12% of respondents had purchased an item on a social site, while 70% of online shoppers said they never buy on social.

Geez, guess it’s all over, huh?

Tell that to small businesses running Facebook storefronts. The SBA reports they’re actually having more success than the big boys at social sales, with some getting 15-30% of their total sales from Facebook. What do they know that enterprise brands don’t?

They know it’s about the experience and leveraging the “social” part of social sales. The Edelman 2013 Trust Barometer shows we always trust each other more than we trust brands. A friend’s rave gets you to a Facebook storefront, where you’ll never be more engaged in that brand and that product than you are at that moment. It’s where the sale can be closed if you’re attentive. Being attentive is often a challenge for large brands.

They also know social commerce is part of something bigger called e-commerce, meaning the Facebook storefront is in sync with the store’s site and isn’t a lesser experience. Beyond that, there’s something even bigger called commerce, meaning brick and mortar enters the loop so all revenue sources work in concert. Customers can come to the store, and the store can go wherever the customer may be.

According to Rakuten’s latest E-commerce Index, 45% of the world’s consumers recommend products on social. The US leads the way in social shopping adoption, with 39% sharing and recommending products. Duke behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely writes that once we own something, its value increases in our minds. To validate the purchase, we advocate for the product. The Times article also cites the psychological concept “social proof.” If we know others are buying something, we assume it’s good.

The power of social influence on sales is amazing, and crystal clear, so why hasn’t the social sales “explosion” happened?

It’s not that consumers won’t trust a non-brick and mortar brand. Interbrand shows Amazon as the 4th most valuable US retail brand, with eBay coming in 9th as reported by Forbes. But social is perceived as more “fast and loose” when it comes to privacy, security and data protection. When industry efforts assuage that concern (easier as you get into younger demographics), look out.

The social storefront will explode, yielding revenue fueled by ease of use and social review/recommendation. The technology is ready. An integrated commerce platform that enhances the CX across social networks, that powers your site and mobile, and that offers prebuilt components to switch up content and stay relevant on the fly makes the social storefront an exciting place for customer and brand.

Plus the resulting data lets you tune customer segmentation and personalize experiences across channels. Gartner predicted earlier this year 50% of information on new customers will be based on social network id’s by the end of 2015.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report may not have been the rosiest, but its digital intelligence expert Matthew Tod still arrived at the conclusion, “Social commerce is an unstoppable force. 15 years from here will be a different world.”

@mikestiles
Photo: stock.xchng

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