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Why all Retail Bets are on Social Commerce

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During the height of the pandemic, we had a lot of time on our hands. Stuck at home, many turned to new or time-trusted hobbies. Many sought to pass the time online shopping, some decided to try their hands at DIY projects to make their homes more comfortable or exciting, while others got into baking bread, sparking a yeast shortage. But no matter what hobbies you did or did not indulge in during quarantine, there is one thing we almost all did more than ever before — scroll social media.

Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, many of us were appalled at our weekly Screen Time report on our phones. With no ability to go anywhere, many of us found ourselves scrolling our social media feeds more than ever. Because we couldn’t converge in person, we did so digitally. In fact, according to Bazaarvoice research, 84% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed that their time on social media has increased significantly since the pandemic started.

But while we were scrolling, we weren’t just socializing. Many people were shopping as well. For years, social media platforms have worked hard to become more shoppable, and social commerce is finally transitioning from niche to mainstream. Consumers’ unprecedented amount of time spent on social media during the pandemic no doubt had an effect on that accelerated adoption. Almost three-quarters (74%) of consumers agree that they find themselves more influenced to shop via social media now than they did pre-pandemic. More than one-third (35%) said that before the pandemic they rarely shopped from social media channels, but since March 2020, 30% said they now often do.

The move social commerce has made to the mainstream has more benefit for online brands and retailers than just an increase in revenue numbers. It helps to fix a huge problem that ecommerce has faced for a while — product discovery. Since its inception, ecommerce has been very good at selling you things you already want. If you’re ready to buy, an online store is ready to take your order. However, it hasn’t yet been able to truly replicate the in-store experience of ‘window shopping.’

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In physical stores, while we may originally go for something specific, we often naturally browse around, wandering the aisles. In fact, brick-and-mortar stores are designed for discovery shopping and browsing, while online shopping is simply meant to be transactional, designed to find you exactly what you need. So how do you bridge that gap? That’s where social commerce comes in.

When we are scrolling through social media and seeing photos and videos shared by friends, family, brands and influencers, we may see a product that catches our eye. It gives us the familiar rush of excitement that comes when discovering a product in a store. But in a physical store, we can touch, inspect, try on and try out these things in person, and are truly able to get a sense if it’s something we want, like or could use. Another bridge to gap online. This is where visual user-generated content (UGC) such as customer photos and videos comes in.

Seeing products worn by people just like themselves in real life inspires and helps online shoppers understand how to wear and use products, which helps give them the confidence to convert. It gives consumers real world evidence about how they themselves can use the product in their own daily lives.

The popularity of visual UGC is only continuing to rise, and it’s becoming a necessity in ecommerce. According to a consumer survey Bazaarvoice conducted, 62% of shoppers are more likely to buy a product if they can view customer videos and photos of the product being used or worn. They find these photos of real people just like themselves to be more realistic and relatable, rather than stale, posed shots of models in a professional studio.

This isn’t just true on the product page, but on social media as well. Over half (64%) of our respondents said that they prefer it when brands use real customer photos in their posts rather than professional product shots. They want to see UGC consistently on social platforms as well — 60% told us that they want to see new visual UGC on a brand’s social media presence at least once a week.

We are long past the days of just showing off your products on social media. You need to be selling them there as well. If you’re a brand or retailer not taking advantage of social commerce, the time to start was yesterday. Use high-quality, fresh and authentic UGC in your posts in order to inspire your customers to not only discover your products but purchase them as well.


As Bazaarvoice’s President, Tom Addis focuses on nurturing the teams, processes and methodologies to help further fuel Bazaarvoice’s growth whilst mentoring and fostering successful teams. With over 30 years in the industry, Addis has a strong track record of successfully scaling teams and driving revenue growth across a number of large technology companies. Prior to Bazaarvoice, he spent the last 18 months at Kinetica as CEO, a streaming cloud data warehouse technology provider leveraged by some of the largest companies around the globe, where he was responsible for setting the company strategy and implementing global processes to drive continued growth. Previous to that, he also held senior positions at Box, ultimately as CRO, where for over seven years he helped to drive stellar revenue growth whilst leading a team of over 1,000 across the sales, customer success, and channels and alliances functions, during which time the company went public. For nine years prior to that, he was part of the Core Leadership team at salesforce.com during consecutive years of exponential growth and a successful IPO. Addis earned his undergraduate degree from UCLA.

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