The use of social technology has reshaped the way consumers buy products/services and how companies advertise to them. In the past consumers relied on the sales staff in a store to guide them in their purchase. Today, consumers look to friends, family (sometimes even strangers) online to help make their purchasing decisions before stepping foot into a store (if they even ever do).
“80% of global consumers are researching online before buying in stores.”
The ability to shop online has allowed consumers to research and buy products/services without ever having to leave their home. So, as a business how can you influence their purchasing decision if they a) aren’t asking you and b) aren’t visiting your brick and mortar store? You must go where the consumers go and do what the consumers do.
“Social commerce is about using social technology to create a shopping experience worth recommending.”
Leveraging word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to funnel consumers into the sales cycle. I actively test this theory, as a consumer, on my Facebook page. Before making a purchase I’m not familiar with, I inquire on Facebook to see what others recommend. (Everyone wants to be the one that gives great advice and advocates for his or her favourite product/service, so the recommendations always come pouring in.)
As a business how can you utilize recommendations in a more controllable and effective way? Amazon utilizes social commerce well through the “Frequently Bought Together” or ”Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” sections of their website. They create the recommendation by using data from previous customers’ purchases to recommend other items the customer may want to purchase before they check out. This is a great start for product recommendations, but what about company recommendations?
How do you become a company that consumers recommend? Well, it’s easy really; offer a great product/service, of great value, and sell it in a way that encourages users to share. Create a shopping ‘experience’; don’t just take their money and run. Creating an experience for consumers and providing quick, easy ways for them to share it with their friends is a surefire way to produce the social recommendation results you’re looking for.
But how? But HOW?!
A great way to encourage social commerce is providing your customers with free stuff! It should be something that is of high perceived value for them but has low cost and time commitment to you and your business.
Dropbox is a great example. They provide a referral program to customers; for every new person that signs up from a link that the customer shares, they receive more megabytes in their account. Yeah for free space! (I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve recommended Dropbox in hopes someone will sign up so I can get more space.)
More space is of ‘high perceived value’ to those that require cloud storage. It won’t cost Dropbox a lot to offer this service and it allows them to harness the power of social and participatory technologies to drive conversions.
In general, e-commerce transactions have too many intermediate steps before a user ends up at the crucial ‘buy’ button. The intent to buy is fragile so the longer it takes, the more chances there are for your consumer to abandon their shopping cart.
By removing all frictions of a traditional payment or e-commerce system, Chirpify transforms social platforms from broadcast to transactional. Consumers can now buy and pay with one comment on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They simply type “buy” in the comment of your post or photo, or in reply to your tweet, and BOOM instant purchase! No linking off social media, no shopping carts and no forms to fill out.
Look at your company’s online presence. Are you engaged in social media? Is your website easy to navigate and purchase from? Social commerce isn’t going away, it’s only going to continue to evolve. Consumers have the power. Create a shopping experience worth recommending and your customers will take it from there.