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The biggest challenges in e-commerce
I recently wrote a blog about the opportunities in e-commerce. The growth of e-commerce in combination with the increasing use of smartphones (including online shopping), makes social commerce very interesting. However, there are also challenges. There is a lot of competition at the moment and the user complains about the relevance of the advertisements. Tips and tricks that arm you to play along in the e-commerce jungle.https://www.badmodewinkel.behttps://www.autoverhuurders.be/

Tip 1. Also think about B2B e-commerce
In an earlier blog, Emile van den Berg already discussed why the use of social media marketing for B2B is a good idea. We go a step further; social commerce is also very relevant for you as a B2B company!

B2B e-commerce is growing. Experts even say that we should no longer talk about a trend, but about a transformation. Just as COVID-19 turned all industries upside down, B2B companies had to believe it too. Business plans are being changed and products and services are being offered online at a rapid pace. B2B companies of all formats are implementing or expanding B2B e-commerce.

Initial results from an ongoing survey show that 34% of B2B buyers purchase digital services and products at least on a weekly basis. For 13% of buyers, this is several times a week. There is a lot of profit to be made here. A recent survey among manufacturers shows that 70% do not have a solid digital commerce strategy.

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Social media should not be missing from this. The benefits that B2C companies experience from building and maintaining a social presence are no different for B2B companies. Through the various platforms B2B companies know how to reach and retain customers. A commercial approach is not wrong. You can use different advertising formats to explain how services or products work, or, for example, place unboxing videos. Offer solutions to problems, even before customers had foreseen them. Or focus on a community in which the target group can exchange experiences with each other. The widely accepted definition of social commerce is “everything that combines content, community and commerce”. So it is certainly not always necessary to make a purchase directly on the platform itself in order to get sales from social media.

Tip 2. Take upcoming trends into account
A much spotted trend in the (buying) behaviour of consumers is a higher degree of awareness. This trend has been visible for some time now, but corona has given one last push. There is a greater focus on health and ‘conscious consumption’ is now trending. This means that people are opting more often for sustainable alternatives, less waste, et cetera. This is also reflected in more local shopping behaviour. According to Accenture, consumers expect this to continue, even after the corona crisis. In addition to a more intrinsic motivation, it is therefore good from a commercial point of view to respond to this.

Live shopping
Live shopping is big business in China; it has an estimated annual value of USD 63 billion. 9% of total online sales are achieved during these live streaming shows. The success lies in the combination of a show element, features of an infomercial and a strong community feeling. Closer to home, this is already cautiously replicated on various social platforms by brands such as Nike and Adidas, with success. But also early adopters like Tesla and P&G are already using it. Instagram, for example, is a platform that already lends itself very well to this, with features such as Instagram Live and the various buttons in the stories. In China, Viya is the big sensation in this area. Every night Viya’s audience places millions of euros worth of orders for cosmetics, prepared food, clothing or appliances – but she has also sold houses and cars.

Group shopping
In China, there is also a great deal of work being done on the community aspect of social commerce. A good example of this is Pinduoduo, an e-commerce platform worth more than 100 billion dollars five years after its creation. The platform has created a ‘group shopping’ experience, which is extremely popular. The concept is very simple: a product that normally costs $20 can be bought for, for example, $15 if a group of 5 people all buy one. It allows users to contact their family and friends, who might also be interested and convince them to make a purchase as well. Genius, because this targeted communication is hugely effective. Pinduoduo works with an integration of WeChat, which makes this communication even easier. We can already see that some companies in the Netherlands are adopting this concept. At Social Deal, for example, you can earn back your entire purchase price if your connections also purchase the deal. I expect this to become more and more common.

Tip 3. Keep an eye on the social platforms
Shoppable ads are one of the most important trends within digital advertising. And the social platforms like to respond to this. The many optimisations and innovations they do make social commerce even more interesting. Moreover, by avoiding the distribution channels of marketplaces such as Bol.com, you have total control over your data. Something that these larger parties are very reluctant to share.

Instagram: from windowshopper to paying customer
If you do social commerce, you can’t ignore Instagram. As with other platforms, Instagram is easy to use, highly measurable and deployable at all stages of the customer journey. The real strength of Instagram, however, lies in advertising content that is visual and inspiring. Underlying desires of users are stimulated even before the functional need arises.

The amount of data that the platform possesses and uses makes suggestions based on someone’s age, connections and online (buying) behaviour. In this way, it is able to accurately assess which product is of interest to a user. Compare this with Google Adwords or Google Shopping, or channels like Bol.com and Amazon, which fulfil more of a direct need. They are certainly used to buy products, but the motivation to sell takes place elsewhere. Instagram is one of the possibilities.

Although Instagram has always had an inspiring function, it has increasingly been transformed into an all-in-one platform for the entire purchasing process, shortening the customer journey considerably. This started with enabling product tags in (organic) posts, but was greatly enhanced when a checkout function was introduced on the app last year. This summer the platform Instagram Shop was launched, a fully personalised in-app shopping experience. The various developments mean that the windowshopper is immediately taken on board and guided to a paying customer.

 

Facebook: innovations and personalisation
Facebook has of course been using ‘shoppable ads’ for a long time. The most recent big announcement, from Facebook Shops, did not come out of the blue. However, the blue giant is not yet ready; earlier this month Facebook announced another programme with which, together with 60 start-ups, it will develop ideas in 12 weeks to expand their e-commerce activities even further.

Skeptics question the success of Facebook Shops and other social commerce activities because it is originally a platform where people want to connect with friends and (distant) family. Personally, I believe that the function of Facebook has gradually changed over the years, which could certainly make it successful. Especially if you, as an advertiser, make sure that the products and advertisements are relevant to the people you reach. Good targeting and personalisation play an important role here.

Facebook has been focusing on personalisation in its advertisements for some time now. The options of dynamic ads are constantly being expanded and it would be a shame if you didn’t make use of these possibilities. Customers spend 48% more if a buying experience is personalized. 57% of online shoppers say it’s great to share personal information when it benefits their shopping experience. So make sure you have relevant content on Facebook, then a lot is possible.

Pinterest: signs full of inspiration
Last year I already wrote a blog with 3 reasons why advertising on Pinterest is interesting and the arguments are still valid. The resounding success of Pinterest, the attractive (buying power) target group of the platform and the phenomenal results of the advertisements on pinterest make it a very attractive platform.

Moreover, Pinterest does not sit still when it comes to social commerce. And that’s not surprising; according to their own statements, 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan their purchases. In 2015, the visual platform already launched the ‘Buyable Pins’, which make it possible to collect products in your shopping basket and then pay for them without leaving Pinterest. Pinterest shares several case studies, which report enormous sales increases as a result of this Buyable Pin – up to a sales increase of no less than 170%.

Early this year, the platform launched the ‘Try on’ feature. This feature was integrated with the already existing feature, which makes it possible to shop based on similar skin tones and lip tones. According to the platform, users of the try on option are five times more likely to show a buying intention than normal Pins. This month, Pinterest shared that it now has more than 10,000 shoppable shades across 48 million beauty Pins.

Since March this year, certified retailers have been able to upload their entire catalogue free of charge. The products are then visible under a ‘shop’-tab on the company’s profile page. At the same time, Pinterest launched a new insights tool, which measures the sales of the organic and paid pins. Since April, users can find these products via one of the platform’s features: Shop From Board, Shop From Search of Shop From Pins. and Style Guides. Various retail brands are enthusiastically working with this, which resulted in 2.5 times more products on the platform than last year. Finally, in June it was announced that you can shop products you have found with ‘Lens’, a visual search function based on a photo taken with your smartphone camera.

In short, you can’t miss the Pinterest boat if you’re selling direct-to-consumer. Keep a close eye on developments and take advantage of them.

 

Snapchat & Tiktok
In addition to these three important e-commerce platforms, Snapchat also sees opportunities here. For example, the platform has announced that it will be offering company profiles. These should make it possible for organisations to display video content, ‘branded’ AR lenses and in-app e-commerce expressions.

Just like Pinterest, the app will have a virtual ‘try on’ function, with which you can try on clothing, shoes or make up by means of augmented reality. In the Netherlands, it is also possible to show real-time e-commerce advertisements based on a product catalogue. Dynamic Product Ads (DPA), the feature for real-time e-commerce advertisements, had already been presented by Snap last autumn. The advertiser selects the desired target group and then Snap builds the ads in real-time. If the price or availability changes, for example, the ad changes automatically. And the app still has big plans for “augmented shopping” and voice-regulated features. Absolutely one to keep an eye on. Especially if your target group can be found here.

TikTok won’t stay behind for long. This platform is also experimenting with social commerce. In May of this year the app entered into a collaboration with Levi’s to test their ‘Shop Now’ button and they are currently developing an AR ad format. However, it is not yet known exactly what this will look like.

About the author: Lisa Mesman is campaign planner at Social.Inc.

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