Retailers continue to embrace social media as a vehicle to connect with consumers, increase sales and showcase products. In a study conducted by Booz & Company in 2011, the firm anticipated the social commerce market to grow six-fold to $30 billion worldwide by 2015, with $14 billion coming from the U.S. alone.
1) Help consumers solve problems together through social intelligence; 2) Help consumers resolve the need for “social status” with early access to new products; 3) Solve consumers’ need for peer bonding with social gifts and gifting; 4) Tie the “discover” component of social commerce to the“ buying” aspect of social media; 5) Lead with purpose, not a pitch. Be purpose driven; and 6) Provide an online marketplace where buyers and sellers come together to exchange goods and services.
“The simplest way to define social commerce is ‘helping people share where they shop and shop where they share,’” said Marsden. “It’s about adding a social layer to help consumers shop smarter when they are on an e-Commerce site or using e-Commerce applications.”
The top three reasons retailer should invest in social commerce, according to Marsden, are because it is: 1) What your customers want; 2) What you need (ROI); and 3) Good customer economics.
“Smart businesses are using social commerce to deliver ‘social utility,’ which helps consumers solve their pain points by allowing them to come together and use their collective customer social score to get a better deal or information,” noted Marsden. “More so, it is about helping people unravel the core of their social problems: peer status and bonding.”
Rather than coming out of the gate with a sales message, added Chaney, retailers must determine an authentic purpose that is consistent with their brands, contributes to the greater good and promotes the well-being of others. “It’s a clearly stated, compelling and unique value proposition communicated across social channels,” he said, “that will set your brand apart from other companies’.”
For example, Chaney pointed to the brand purpose at Nike: “We exist to help everyone achieve their athletic potential,” a statement that positions Nike as the customers’ workout partner. “Although the goal of the brand is to sell its products, the company created social and mobile applications to offer customers the ability to take Nike with them during their workouts,” said Chaney. “This approach places Nike in front of customers during their workout routines.”
For retailers to better understand the purpose of social commerce and how it can benefit their companies, Chaney said that the secret to unlocking social sales is to put buyers and sellers together in an online community. This community will offer retailers the capability to interact on a personal level that fosters transparency and trust, and through which they can leverage their social graph and influence of friends to make smarter buying decisions.