One of the most important factors to insure sales in the upcoming year is to anticipate the biggest trends that will mark digital eCommerce. In the age of technology, adopting new technologies in your business is not a choice anymore; it's a must. If you haven’t taken your brand’s presence online seriously, your competitors certainly have and unless you find innovative ways to attract customers online and fight off the competition, sales will be affected in a negative way. Even if you do have an online store which is doing just fine at the moment, to make sure this does not change in the near future, it is important to understand the latest trends that are affecting the global retail industry and its sales data.
Adapting new trends to fit your brand’s vision and target current and new markets will not only strengthen and enhance your marketing tactics, it will also open up new segments of customers eager to hear about your products and services.
New customers mean only one thing and that is more products to be sold and more money to be made.
This is why we think it is very important to understand all new trends in online eCommerce, the biggest one of all currently being social commerce.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is the sales and transactions that are directly linked and a result of engaging your customers online. In short, we are talking about sales deriving from your efforts on social media. Let’s face it; social media has completely changed the way brands interact with their customers online and most importantly, social media has redefined how word of mouth works.
Since the beginning of selling goods to people via any channel, from traditional types of sales channels to online sales, customers have always been influenced in their purchasing decision by other customers, especially if close to them (family, friends, their social circle’s influencers). This is very much true on social media were you are much more likely to buy a product that has been recommended by a friend of yours or has received a good review by fellow customers.
From 'word of mouth' to 'click of mouse'
These days, rather than sales being triggered by real life word of mouth, the game is ruled by triggering clicks of mouse - calls to action that result in adding a product to online baskets in your web shop or receiving a request for a product over social media.
To trigger these clicks of mouse, marketeers have adapted and adopted various tactics to attract large followings on social media and engage with these followings actively in order to influence their purchasing decisions.
But let’s take a step back. To understand the scale of the change brought by digital commerce (selling products and services online) within the retail industry, we took a look at some very interesting marketing and sales data (for 2015), highlighting so many possibilities and opportunities if selling products/services online:
- In 2015, 200 million digital shoppers are spending an average of $1,700/person
- Despite having ultra-low incomes, Generation Z spends the highest percentage (9%) of their income online
- 40% of men and 33% of women aged 18-34 say they would ideally “buy everything online.”
- 25% of U.S. consumers will consult social media before buying gift
- 40% of 18- to 34-year-olds are likely to use social networks for gift ideas
- 71% of consumers who experience positive social media care are likely to recommend that brand to others
- 33% of consumers have reacted to a promotion on a brand’s social media page
- 55% of shoppers say that online reviews influence their buying decision
These are just a few facts regarding the retail industry and what these stats clearly point out is the major role of social media in today’s customers' decision when purchasing online.
In view of these numbers and the growing strength of social marketing and commerce, there is no doubt that the way a brand interacts and engages with social media users will play a key role in in the 2016 sales expectations.
*Source and more more retail industry stats to be viewed here.
How to engage with potential customers on social media
It’s easy to talk about numbers and trends but it may not be so easy understand how you can leverage the power of social media to your advantage and increase your customer base, customer loyalty, and brand’s fans.
Obviously we can’t give you a golden formula that works in general, but we can suggest a few tips that will help you adjust your social media strategy and maximise engagement with social media users.
1. Make yourself recognizable
When launching your brand’s social media accounts, remember that these are a reflection of your brand’s voice. Don’t be sloppy. Pay attention to how you brand your social media. Make sure you provide all the key information regarding your brand (addresses, email, telephone number, customer service number).
The way your social media looks should mirror your brand’s appearance in general (online and offline).
2. Don’t let tumbleweeds roll instead of posts
The biggest mistake you can do is open a social media account just to have it idle at all times. When a potential customer ends on your social media pages and sees nothing going on or the last post dating to months ago, he or she will likely disengage with your brand.
If you don't have time to engage with your social media, hire a social media manager that will make sure to update all your pages with relevant content on a daily basis.
Also, social media should be used as a direct customer service channel where customers and followers can contact the brand. You need to have someone ready to reply to all questions and requests in a timely manner.
3. Post content that is relevant to your potential customers
Social media can get you so much attention but only if you know how to engage your target audience. Posting or tweeting meaningless content won’t do absolutely anything for you. Use social media to inform your followers of upcoming product launches, promotions, positive product reviews or how to get their hands on your newest product line. Social media is also great to share useful tutorials, recommendations, ask for your followers’ feedback on services or products you may want to include in your offerings.
If you make the effort to engage your users, they will be more receptive to your voice on social media in general.
Successful social commerce examples you can implement now
Sometimes a little inspiration is needed to think of ways to liven up your social commerce. This is why we rounded up our top 3 successful social commerce efforts that may instantly trigger your creative juices.
If you're on Twitter you are certainly familiar with hashtags. Every day there are a number of hashtags trending across Twitter and Sephora had the brilliant idea of promoting their latest line of nail polishes on the day that the #ManiPediDay was trending. This resulted in their product promotion tweet being viewed by many many more people than it would be on any other day.
Tip to be learned: monitor for trending topics on social media and use them to your advantage.
Ikea’s brilliant way to socially proof its products
Ikea often shares on Twitter posts with pictures showing how their customers used the products bought from Ikea to decorate their home. Not only this works as a direct recommendation of Ikea products made by customers (positive reviews), but it also engages customers in interacting with the brand which basically does a great customer service by saying publically thanks (by posting the pictures that the customers send in) to their customers for buying their products.
Tip to be learned: ask your customers to send in reviews of the products they purchased from you. Use positive reviews at your brand’s advantage!
Nike’s inspirational quotes
For a while now Nike has been sharing on Pinterest inspirational quotes in images of their models with their sports apparel. Motivational quotes are shared a lot on social media in general so Nike found a great way to have their apparel shared by making their content inspirational quotes) also their ads. Winner!
Tip to be learned: use a social media trend at your advantage. Monitor for content that is shared a lot and implement it in your marketing tactics.