Should You Be Planning For Social Commerce? Let's See What The Statistics Say

Social commerce is a hot topic these days and - especially if you have a product-based business - you might be wondering whether you should be planning for it to be part of your marketing strategy. Therefore, I thought I'd do a bit of research into some digital marketing statistics and try to work out how it looks like this area will develop in the near future.

Here's what we will look at in this post:

-  The potential of social commerce
-  How it is working on Pinterest already
-  The top research avenues of social media users (Facebook)
-  The main online purchase drivers

However, let's first take a quick look at exactly what we mean by the term 'Social Commerce' (for the purposes of this post anyway).

Working definition of Social Commerce

Obviously we are all used to products being heavily advertised through social media - however, in this post we are not talking about products simply being advertised on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. What we are looking at here is the possibility of users being able to complete their transactions without leaving the platform. 

So, the term Social Commerce refers to social networks having checkouts built in to them so that users do not have to go elsewhere in order to complete their purchase. 

Should You Be Planning For Social Commerce? Let's See What The Stats Say

The potential of Social Commerce

Now, let's have a look at the potential of Social Commerce, as defined above. As you will see in the images below, the case for its success looks to be extremely compelling.


Highlights from the information above includes:

-  The first image shows that a large percentage of users from the most popular social networks have also recently purchased a product online. Note this doesn't say that they bought through an advert they saw on social media.
"It just really says that a high percentage of social media users also purchase products online."
The second image seems to hint at the fact that social commerce has more than a chance of being successful:

-  56% of people surveyed said that they follow brands on social media to 'see proucts'
-  A decent percentage of users said they would like to be able to buy products directly through social media platforms

So, it looks like the Social Commerce idea has some legs. But, let's take a look at a few other surveys before we jump to conclusions.

Top research avenues for Facebook users

When it actually comes down to beginning the buying process, how do users behave? Here's how users of the world's largest social networking platform start the buying process.

The stand out piece of information here is that; 

"Over half of these users revert to the search engines to begin researching their desired products." 

This suggests that social networks are great for product discovery, but they are not the preferred option for starting research.

Then, main online purchase drivers

Now, we should look at what actually motivates people to purchase items online as a whole. You'll see that this is very relevant to what are are reviewing in this post.

-  74% said 'Free delivery'
-  44% said 'Easy returns policy'
-  38% said 'Quick and easy checkout'
-  37% said 'Financial rewards/incentives'
-  29% said 'Next day delivery'
-  19% said 'The chance to buy something as a guest'
-  13% said 'Click and collect facilities'
"Only 4% said 'The chance to buy something on a social network."


In this survey;

"Only 10% of users said a Buy Button on a social network would make them more likely to purchase a product."

Looking to Pinterest as an example

Although the above information starts to sound like Social Commerce may not fair so well after all, we can look to Pinterest to see how powerful it can really be:

-  As of October 2015 there were over 60 million shoppable pins
-  Such Pins can be integrated with Etsy and now IBM Commerce, Bigcommerce and Magento
-  (Source)

These purchases are obviously being completed through third party carts, but the transaction is still being completed on the network so it shows us clearly what can be achieved.

What can we take away from this?

Well, here are the key takeaways, as I see them anyway:

-  Social media platforms clearly have a ready audience that they could target with 'Buy Now' buttons or similar
-  Some social media users say they would indeed use these if they were available
-  Indeed, Pinterest users already do in large numbers
-  Most social media users begin their product research through a search engine
To me it seems obvious that there will be a huge surge in social commerce, although it will require a certain degree of 're-training' users to think about social networks as places they can complete transactions for it to become dominant. At the moment, we are all trained to begin our buying processes through a search engine like Google, and this will take time to change.

However, in my opinion it most certainly will and if you sell products you should at least be ready to look at the option when it becomes more readily available on the major networks (and, if your product fits the Pinterest network well, you should look at starting here).

I hope you found this useful and please let me know if I can help in any way.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.