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RICE 2022: Social Commerce Success Hinges on Consistency and Friction-Free Shopping

Social commerce has quickly grown from a revolutionary idea to a mainstream concept, and the channel is expected to continue expanding to reach $1.2 trillion in sales by 2025. However, it’s still a young medium, meaning retailers are still learning how they can make the most of the opportunities it presents. Jane, a DTC home décor and fashion retailer, explained how its unique approach to live shopping and social commerce has resulted in massive returns at the 2022 Retail Innovation Conference & Expo.

The foundational lesson is that, while social commerce can be an outgrowth of a retailer’s traditional social media interactions, it’s both more time-sensitive and more time-consuming. Retailers need to have a dedicated team in place that can put together the right content, and release it at the right pace, if they hope to truly realize ROI.

“It’s not the same as when social launched with just reach and engagement, because now you’re actively trying to get people to engage in the tap-to-shop experience — conversion is involved,” said Meagen Johnson, SVP of Marketing at Jane during the session. “Before it was just about putting up some great pictures. ‘Oh, that’s a cute sweater.’ ‘Hey, go look for it on our website.’ Now we’re trying to actually to drive people to make that conversion.”

In addition to creating the content, the technical side can’t afford to be anything less than perfect. Social commerce is a channel built on convenience, and any friction in the transaction can be enough to kill both that specific purchase and ongoing engagement. Additionally, any links that bring a shopper to your site should include a clear path to purchase that makes checkout as smooth as possible.

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The rewards can be worth the challenges. Social commerce has become Jane’s fastest-growing channel, and 2021 highlights include:

  • Purchases up 81% year-over-year;
  • GMV up 86% year-over-year;
  • Conversion rates up 10% year-over-year in December;
  • Live shopping GMV up 95% year-over-year; and
  • An average reach of more than 2 million viewers per live shopping video, up from 40,000 in 2020.

While there is no single path to social commerce success, according to Johnson, she offered what she saw as the closest thing to a universal rule among social commerce programs: consistency. Shoppers need to be able to connect with brands regularly to build up trust and loyalty through smaller events and drops. Only then will you earn the following necessary to run a truly massive social commerce campaign.

You can’t go to your customer at one point and say ‘Hey, check this out here,’ and then leave whatever platform you’re on for a few months before going ‘Just kidding, come back and try again,’” said Johnson. “Every single day, every single week, we scheduled and promoted these live events so consumers could check out some of our sellers and some of the products that we’re offering on a consistent basis.”

Additionally, social commerce strategy should remain flexible even once it’s established, and retailers should be monitoring responses to all their posts to look for new opportunities. This approach led to a unique and powerful sales driver for Jane: selling apparel through home goods-focused posts.

“We noticed that if you follow a home influencer and they say, ‘Hey, here’s how I set my table for Christmas’ you could read the comments and a lot of those say, ‘Oh my gosh, where did you get those earrings?’” said Johnson. “They want nothing to do with the table that was the reason that got posted. There are a lot of these home influencers who happen to be touting something totally different. Their audience is asking about what they’re wearing and what they’re doing.”

Jane took advantage of this discovery by giving its home influencers fashion items, which led to impressive results. Home influencers ended up driving 6% higher ROAS, 78% higher CTR and 280% more sessions than fashion influencers. In one week, two home influencers were responsible for 92% of conversions, 80% of sessions and 84% of GMV against 19 other fashion influencers.

Retailers also should look for ways to utilize influencer content beyond social media. Jane thinks of its influencer partners as content creators, and collaborates with them to utilize their photos and posts in emails and on its website to harness their creativity — and generate further sales.

“The moral of the story is, sometimes it’s [too] easy to be obvious,” said Johnson. “There are different categories and different industries, and it’s just easier to go with what we know. But dig into the things that you’re doing and look for creators, influencers and ambassadors that have those niche spaces, or even just get creative about how you partner with them. You can unlock untapped revenue that you didn’t know you weren’t getting before.”

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