Is Social Commerce the Next Big Thing in Online Retail?

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By Alex Husar

As the percentage of purchases made on mobile devices grows, it is crucial to have both a strong online presence and a top-notch eCommerce website with a perfectly optimized mobile version. But what about taking the online retail game to an ultimately stronger next level and combining the best of both worlds?

In this article, you can learn about social commerce and its benefits for online sales, find out about the leading role of mobile devices in eCommerce, as well as take a sneak peek at how renowned brands are already taking advantage of social shopping capabilities.

The World Is Going Mobile-First

It’s no secret that many people are inseparable from their smartphones. In much, this explains the demand for the possibility to shop online right from a mobile device. This changes the rules of online shopping completely. Since more users give preference to shop from a tablet or smartphone rather than their desktop computer, the more important it is to focus on the mobile-first approach.

What does this mean? Impeccable UX and UI that’s designed specifically for tailoring to the needs of mobile shoppers. You basically need to restructure the entire website in order for it to be easy to use. This is why numerous eCommerce websites are moving towards PWA development as such websites take the best features of a native application. There’s no need to download them to the device, they are very fast, and intuitive to use as their UX/UI is incredible.

That said, excessive and unnecessary elements for mobile devices (that are present and decorate the large desktop version) have to go. Simplified navigation, easily tappable buttons, convenient element placing (such as moving the dropdown menu towards the bottom and to the side of the page so that people can reach to the needed area of the screen with their thumb) are just a couple of examples.

Speed optimization is the next crucial point on the list. You can lose a lot of sales if your website isn’t optimized in terms of speed. If it takes way too long to load the pages, the chances that the user will make it to the final checkout steps lowers greatly. There’s no denying that slow websites make people dissatisfied with their shopping experience and make them leave the page, looking for other options elsewhere.

Benefits of Social Media Use in eCommerce

There are many ways that social media channels can be handy for helping an eCommerce website to win over the hearts of more clients and sell more. Let’s go over a couple of major ones.

1. Boosting Your Website

First of all, you can easily make your website better, more interactive, and interesting visually by connecting it with various social media channels of yours. Sliders, client photo galleries, video reposts, etc, can all make their way to your site. As such, apart from the homepage, category pages, and product pages, such widgets and galleries even appear on landings, thus, you can keep this in mind when building landing pages for your store.

2. Expanding Online Presence

Without a doubt, having more space on the internet to feature your business is a chance not to miss out on. And because people spend a lot of time being busy with their social media accounts, it’s your shot at flickering before the eyes of a larger audience. After all, why not keep people updated about your business’ latest news, product lines, special deals, etc, using the favored channels of your buyers? You can even leave all your contact details and your website link on social pages, communicate with your customers, and engage them in many different ways.

At this point, you may be thinking that it’ll be too overwhelming and time-consuming to keep up an eCommerce website and run multiple socials. To be fair, yes, to bring value to the business this requires enough input. Yet by cross-linking and sharing posts on your channels, creating a content plan isn’t that hard. Especially bearing in mind that with all the scheduler tools that are out there, this doesn’t necessarily imply everyday work, you just plan things ahead and set up auto-postings.

3. Growing Organic Traffic

Following from the above, if your social media accounts link back to your eCommerce website, you can grow its organic traffic. And, importantly, this is generally high-quality traffic that is composed of leads who are actually interested in the content and products, meaning they are much likelier to buy from you. This is an outstanding “move” for saving your investments in obtaining leads. Furthermore, since expanding the share of organic traffic is among the top aims of SEO and link-building strategies, it’s simply inexcusable to not make the most of social media channels. Consider them as quality links that’ll beat paths right to your eCommerce website.

4. Building Social Proof

What helps to influence your decision when you’re not sure whether you want to buy something or not? We bet that the feedback and opinions of others are among the most important things that come to your mind. Along with testimonials, various brand mentionings by others on social media (be they posts by friends, influencers, brand ambassadors, or just random strangers), matter a lot. They can inspire others to follow their lead with a product use idea, for example, an outfit or look. Such posts prove that your brand is a real thing, enjoyed by many real people.

Here’s an example of a social media section featured on the official Maybelline website. It suggests their clients make posts of how they use their products on social media channels, mention the official account of Maybelline, and leave a hashtag to get reposted on their website and accounts.

screenshot for the maybeline website

5. Earning on Social Commerce

And the most important benefit of all is that eCommerce businesses can start selling a lot more “off” of their website using their social media business accounts. In a nutshell, if you have the opportunity to grow the number of your orders by making “trails” to your store from social media channels, why not? We’ll give you more details on how it’s done in the next block of the article. 

Shops on Social Networks

In this section, we bring you examples of how renowned companies are making use of the shops on social media channels. In essence, for the social media business accounts to allow sales, they must be connected to the catalog of the online store, pass verification, and have the needed product content. 

Instagram Shops

Perhaps the most popular social media platform for selling online is Instagram. Being very widespread in terms of social media use among millennials, it is currently the best channel out there for grabbing the attention of such client groups. It’s a good fit for other target audiences too, of course.

An eCommerce business must have a Facebook Shop first, though, to get an Instagram one. The catalog of the store gets linked to the Facebook Shop and only then it becomes accessible on the Instagram Business account. Another possible downside is that such shopping functionality is only granted to those users who are using their mobile devices to browse the Instagram account (it’s not applicable to the desktop version).

So how does it all work? After verifying the Business Instagram account and connecting it to the website’s catalog, store owners can add posts and Stories to their feed. These Stories and posts can depict products that are tagged to the product pages of the eCommerce store. The post allows showing product details, price, description, link to the store, and other information. To illustrate the mentioned above, take a look at the screenshot taken from the official Calvin Klein Instagram account.

screenshot taken from the official Calvin Klein website

Topping that, for the convenience of account followers, the sold products can be collected and added to the “Shop” section that’s marked by a shopping bag symbol on the Instagram page (located below “Highlights” circles next to the IGTV tab).


The second example of social commerce that we’d like to overview is Pinterest. This platform’s major aims were to give people the opportunity to share things that they like, that inspire them, and to inspire others. DIYs, unique findings, looks, designs, photography, learning materials… There’s so much that can be found, pinned, and shared. So why not add the opportunity to shop for something that caught your eye?

This is exactly why many brands create products that they sell as pins and provide all the necessary links so that people can purchase items that they like. Take a look at how it’s organized on the official Converse Pinterest page. The shoe model is created as a pin, we can see the description of the item, the “Save” button to add the pin to the user’s board, and the “Add photo”. Importantly, there is a link to the Converse eCommerce store’s product page on which the shoes can be bought.

screenshot taken from the converse website

Final Word

As time goes, the behavior of consumers and their buying patterns change. Currently, we’re all moving towards the mobile approach, as people continuously spend more time browsing the Internet using their mobile devices and in their social media channels. What’s for eCommerce, online retail businesses certainly, shouldn’t lag behind and get ahold of all the benefits of social media to grow their business. And the major one of them is selling more!