Regardless of whether you own a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce website (or both), your retail sales have likely suffered a blow in the past few months. And while most states have allowed their retail stores to open stores, consumers may be somewhat cautious when shopping in stores.
Hopefully you’ve expanded your ecommerce website and will continue to promote it. However, this is not the only online channel you can contact. There has been an increase in social shopping or social commerce in recent years. In fact, eMarketer reports doubled between 2016 and 2018 on visits to retail locations controlled by social networks.
The increase in social selling was observed in the 2019 holiday season, which proved to be successful for social commerce. According to Smartly.io, a platform for automating advertising on social media, consumers are now not only realizing that social media is a new way to shop for Christmas gifts, but they are also buying these gifts more often than ever after being influenced by social advertising were. ”
Of course, the growth of social commerce is partly due to the general increase in online shopping. However, Smartly.io reported that 57% of vacation shoppers attributed social media ads as help in getting new gift ideas.
Social selling will not replace online or in-store shopping as quickly. Currently, according to Mobile Marketer, "shoppers primarily search social platforms to discover products and connect with brands, but trade outside the app – usually on a company's website or in a separate messaging system."
And according to Business2Community (B2C), leaving the social platform for shopping “always acted as an obstacle to the change. Since in-app purchases are now possible, the future of e-commerce is in social media. "B2C calls this" one of the most exciting e-commerce trends because online sellers can advertise browsers with influencer marketing and user-generated content when shopping. "
Robert Rothschild, VP and Global Marketing Director of Smartly.io, says, "2019 was [the] a turning point year" in which consumers are ready to shop through social commerce. Consumers, he added, "who are flocking to highly visual platforms like Instagram and Facebook as new marketplaces … expect the digital ads they come across to fit seamlessly into their browsing and shopping experience … The brands that stand out are ironically the ones that design their ads to be as unobtrusive to consumers as possible and to match the native content of each placement. "
Retailers, Rothschild said, were planning to spend "19459005] a whopping $ 65 billion on social media ads in 2020" and that was before the pandemic kept many of us at home.
Obviously, one of the biggest advantages of social selling is the size of the platforms – and their global reach. There are literally billions of social media users around the world – and the number is still increasing. Therefore, it only makes sense to include social media in your company's marketing strategy.
And then there are the additional benefits of social media that can increase your website traffic and not only increase your e-commerce website sales, but these social commerce efforts can also lead to higher search engine rankings.
Another advantage of social commerce is that it often connects you and your company to consumers. Social platforms make it easy for consumers to talk to you, ask questions, get solutions, find out what's new, etc. By engaging with them, you can show that you care about their opinions, increase customer loyalty, and build strong relationships .
Other items from AllBusiness.com: 
What specifically influences consumers to make purchases on social media ads?
Smartly.io asked consumers what main factors influenced their decision to buy a product through a social media ad. Research shows:
The most popular product categories for social selling:
Instagram is becoming increasingly popular as an effective social selling platform. The growing importance of Instagram as a platform is likely to have a dramatic impact on the e-commerce landscape in 2020. Vishal Shah, Instagram product manager, says the company is increasingly pushing Instagram users to shop in the app. B2C adds: “Online sellers need to consider Instagram an important channel and use their attention and resources appropriately. Over 80% of Instagram users already state that the app helps them make purchasing decisions and discover new products. This number will increase further in the next few years. "
Smartly.io research shows that 59% of retailers advertise on Instagram, while 75% advertise on Twitter. However, Smartly.io says: “With 96% acceptance, Facebook is by far the most popular platform for social advertising. In fact, 36% say Facebook is the platform they spend the most on, and 41% say they get the best ROAS. "
Smartly.io's social media advertising study also shows:
Companies admit that they are not fully prepared for social advertising. The Smartly.io study shows that 83% of retailers believe they need to improve the automation of parts of their ad creation and delivery, but 66% do not use automation technology. The good news is that 39% plan to address these inefficiencies by investing in more robust social media in 2020.
Now that we're in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, social media platforms could prove to be an even more effective sales channel. Even if their cities and states are "open to business," many consumers will probably still prefer to shop from home rather than venturing into shopping centers, malls, and main streets for at least a while.
Will 2020 actually be the year that social commerce becomes mainstream? Mobile Marketer is convinced of this and says: "2020 can be the year in which social commerce becomes a more established shopping channel, which offers brands new opportunities to motivate users on the go and to open up new sources of income."
CONNECTION: 13 ways to connect with customers on social media