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Shop Now: Your Guide to Native Ecommerce on Social Media

Business

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We take our own inventory of who’s making it easiest to shop social…and what option might be right for you.

As brands like Instagram and Pinterest have learned, it doesn’t take much to drive a customer from inspiration to purchase. And their growth has depended, in part, on making that purchase part effortless. Instagram took the latest step toward its transformation into your personal digital mall with Instagram Checkout. The feature will allow aspiring shoppers to make purchases without leaving the app. Over time, more brands will be added and new companies will be able to take advantage of this seamless shopping experience.

In honor of this announcement, we figured we’d provide a roundup of the many existing ecommerce options available on some of your favorite social media platforms.

Instagram

In addition to the forthcoming Checkout feature, brands have had the ability to “tag” products on Business accounts since 2017, with these tags serving as links to the product on an external site for purchase. Brands not selected for the Checkout feature will continue to have the “tag” option to fuel their own ecommerce, though it will direct users away from the app to make purchases.

Pro: For selected brands, Checkout will afford an opportunity to connect users to your brand without pulling them away from the Instagram app- keeping your feed in their sights through it all.

Con: At least for the time being, this immersive shopping opportunity isn’t available for all brands in equal measure.

Facebook

Businesses wishing to sell physical items on Facebook can set up shops on their business Pages. There is no minimum transaction amount to host this online store, and all transactions are conducted inside Facebook- so no worries about directing buyers away from your Page. And as with other features of the platform, there is ample support and guidance on how to run a successful shop- so be sure to take advantage of these resources, should you choose to host an online store here.

Pro: For small businesses, Shop for Pages provides a low-cost method to expose your products to a dedicated audience.

Con: For businesses with a more expansive inventory, it could become unwieldy or time-consuming to offer it all in this type of environment.

LinkedIn

Given the considerable bias toward physical products for ecommerce, it shouldn’t surprise you that LinkedIn doesn’t have a presence in this market at the moment. Their only sellable product, educational materials through the Learning collaboration with Lynda, can’t be sold a la carte, instead requiring a monthly fee which provides access to their full library of courses.

Pro: For organizations aiming to offer their teams training in an affordable and accessible fashion, LinkedIn for Learning is an affordable option.

Con: Obviously, it’s not an effective commerce option for anything else.

Pinterest

Prior to Instagram’s meteoric rise as a brand-booster, Pinterest wore this crown with bombast. And ahead of its IPO, it’s still hoping to maintain its hold on shoppers who so often use the platform for inspiration. Its latest shopping tools, announced earlier this month, utilize “product pins” to allow shoppers to buy many of the items inspiring their aesthetic. These product pins join their buyable pins (originally introduced in 2015), as well as the capability for all businesses to post Shopping Ads. For visually inspired shoppers, Pinterest is a natural destination that brands should take advantage of.

Pro: The platform is well suited to help “pinspired” shoppers complete their vision.

Con: While product pins allow seamless in-app purchases, buyable pins and Shopping Ads would pull shoppers away from the platform.

Tumblr and Twitter

While other platforms seem to be leaning toward making in-app purchases simpler, Twitter is leaning away.

Previously developed and deployed products like “Buy Now” buttons for individual tweets, Product Pages that would collate product-oriented tweets into an easily shoppable page, and Twitter Cards, have all been discontinued. The result? The rise of third-party tools like Shopify, which have stepped in to make shopping options on the platform more straightforward.

Tumblr is another platform that, while promising as a space to generate leads for niche products, has also declined to develop native ecommerce tools. Third party tools like Shopify and BlkDot have stepped in to fill in the void.

Pro: It’s not strictly impossible to sell on either of these platforms, and they are fertile for finding passionate and dedicated consumers.

Con: The methods to set up viable commerce experiences can be less intuitive with the help of a third party than they might be with a native tool.

A strong ecommerce presence on social media helps to grow your audience and build strong relationships with customers. Which ones are you using? Which ones have you not yet considered for your brand?

Mastering your presence is essential in a crowded marketplace, and we hope to help you do it at Social Media Week New York. Passes are still available, so register to join us today!

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