Global brands and major retailers have come a long way in the last couple of years trying to get ahead of the social media curve.
With the eCommerce scene exploding within the region and consumers being constantly online browsing the internet and connected on social media, it comes as no surprise that social media will play an even more integral role in shaping the face of the retail industry.
An example would be Instagram: the platform recently took a bold step into the eCommerce space by introducing a “Shop Now” button, allowing users to make direct purchases. Joining the likes of Facebook with its “Buy” button, and Pinterest with its “Pin It” button, this is a clear signal that eCommerce is gravitating towards social media.
Recent studies have shown that social media continues to drive a large amount of retail traffic than any other online channels. In Singapore, 17 per cent of online shoppers depend heavily on eCommerce sites for browsing and making purchases – with most citing referral from family and friends being the biggest influence when it comes to purchase decisions.
For most online shoppers, there might be no better place to shop than social media platforms where our friends and followers are able to exchange information and help make more informed purchase decisions. With “Buy” buttons, the social media shopping experience is becoming even more seamless for consumers and could very well account for a good share of revenue for brands. Retailers should not miss this opportunity to increase brand awareness through social media – not only to attract new customers but also engage and retain their existing customers.
The Growing Use of Mobile
Southeast Asia has seen a 35 per cent increase in smartphone usage in the region and Singapore has emerged with the highest smartphone penetration globally. In addition, with the ability and convenience to shop on-the-go thanks to smartphones, brands are likely to make mobile commerce (mCommerce) the norm – leveraging mobile apps to engage customers both in-store and out.
As such, marketers can no longer afford to exclude mobile as part of their marketing strategy, as consumers continue to shift from desktop shopping to making their purchases via their mobile devices.
For instance, Zalora, one of Asia’s biggest clothing e-tailers incorporates the use of mobile in their physical popup stores. Customers are able to scan QR codes tagged to each merchandise with their mobile devices, and add items into their virtual shopping bag. They also have free WiFi in-store to allow shoppers to access the Internet seamlessly and check-out their purchases. This has helped the brand see a significant amount of revenue stemming from mobile access since the launch of its mobile app back in 2013.
As social mobile networks app such as Line, WeChat, and SnapChat continue to gain popularity within the region, it will be interesting to take a look at the marriage of mobile messaging apps and mobile commerce – Line for instance has rolled out LinePay to enable users to make mobile payments via the chat app itself.
Looking at the future of social media and eCommerce/mCommerce, it is certain that social media will become increasingly sophisticated. Improved technology to keep users “in-app”, developing of new mobile payments methods, and the removal of obstacles for purchases online will most certainly steer shopping to the social media experience.
Most consumers are already on social media. Sooner or later, a purchase on social media will become the preferred way of shopping. Brands know where their customers are; it is time for them to refine their social media strategy to leverage this social eCommerce wave.