The Future of Shopping on Social Media



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It’s no secret that brick and mortar establishments have given way to e-tailers, but what about social media (SM)? SM is picking up speed and is now much more than an avenue for keeping up with high school friends and photo sharing. Facebook has notoriously been looking to segue into online shopping (for better or worse), but it’s not the only platform with an eye fixed on e-commerce. Blending SM with shopping is a natural marriage, and now is the time to strike.

Sites like Etsy and even eBay have had great success helping boutiques and smaller retailers connect with customers. Big names like Bebe and designer labels have thousands of fans and followers on SM. Both scrolling through SM feeds and online shopping are enjoyable time killers for many, especially in an increasingly mobile world, and the benefits of shopping on SM sites are endless. Could 2014 be the year of the social seller?

Why sell on social media

You already know that having an online shop in addition (or in lieu of) a brick and mortar seriously reduces your overhead. That gives startups and boutiques the competitive edge to go from hobby to serious retailer. However, the unique blend of social media does something no other online presence can: it helps customers actually connect to their favorite retail stores. After all, this is a social arena.

Even better, point of sale software is constantly improving, making online shoppers feel safer and more secure. In 2014, the year of the hacks and viruses, online sales continue to thrive. However, shoppers want more from their online experience and an actually engaging experience. This is where SM can play a huge role, allowing shops and retailers to reach their customers on an entirely new level.

How to capitalize on SM for retailers

There are a number of ways to blend in shopping with SM, such as hosting contests like #OOTD, welcoming shoppers to upload Instagrams of their favorite outfits. Giveaways, discounts, fashion advice and other goodies for SM followers only can help retailers increase their reach. It’s easy to share photos, videos, posts and blogs on almost every SM platform, so you can link directly back to your online shop.

However, in 2014 you might even consider ditching the separate website for good. As it gets easier to shop directly from SM platforms, consumers want a more streamlined process. Soon, more people will be using mobile devices than desktop PCs, and there will be more mobile devices than people in the world, which means ease of use is paramount. One-click shopping isn’t just convenient, but an absolute must in such an environment.

Getting prepared

A solid SM marketing campaign, mobile-readiness, and secure checkout systems help your business get on the fast track. Adding SM shopping into the total experience also means less work on your end, especially when it comes to outreach and marketing. Your customers are already posting and tweeting away, so why not make sure it’s about your inventory and latest products? Shopping has always been a social undertaking, and going digital is a segue that just makes sense.

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter at @LarryAlton3 and LinkedIn.

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