(Guest writer: Kelsie Rimmer)
Combining the ease and accessibility of e-commerce with the community engagement of social media, social commerce is a growing trend for 2021. As an online brand or business, social commerce doesn’t just help you market your products to a wider audience; it also allows you to more easily and effectively convert your social media followers into paying customers.
With 55% of online shoppers now making purchases through social media channels and many big brands now selling their products via Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest Shopping Ads and Catalogs, it’s time to jump on the social commerce bandwagon if you want your business to remain competitive.
We all know that social media moves at the speed of light, and with new social commerce features popping up all the time, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve. So, from Instagram and Facebook Shops to Shoppable Video, here are the biggest social commerce trends to keep an eye on in 2021…
1. Facebook & Instagram Shops
Without a doubt, Facebook Shops and Instagram Checkout have been one of the biggest developments in the world of social media commerce over the past year. Introduced in May 2020, the new feature — available across both platforms — enables businesses to establish simplified online stores that run through the Facebook and Instagram apps. Optimized for any platform or device, Shops make it super easy for your customers to make an in-app purchase while they scroll.
Among their many benefits, perhaps the best thing about Facebook and Instagram Shops is that it’s free! Running an eCommerce website can be expensive and requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep — whereas, with Facebook and Instagram shops, you simply need to customize the dedicated “shop” section on your Facebook page or Instagram profile, immediately allowing your followers to browse, save, share, and purchase. It’s as easy as that.
Since most potential buyers are on social media, it makes sense for brands to sell their products on the platforms where their customers are already browsing for inspiration. As a result, many brands are now moving towards using social platforms as their main sales platforms — such as ASOS, Clothing the Gap, Fy, and Levi’s, who’ve all set up Instagram and Facebook shops.
“Last year, Facebook announced its latest eCommerce play, Facebook and Instagram Shops,” says Envato’s Content Marketing Manager Julia Fernandez. “Given that many brick and mortar businesses pivoted to online in 2020, social media shopfronts provide a great alternative for brands looking to connect with customers.”
For small businesses, another great perk is that social media shops offer not only a pool of potential buyers but also the required infrastructure to sell to them. Instead of paying a team of designers and programmers to create a website or set up your online store, Facebook and Instagram shops take on the grunt work for you, allowing you to sell directly to your online audience with minimal effort.
2. Shoppable Video
Without a doubt, video is the most engaging form of content online. And as shoppable posts continue to rise in popularity, it’s no surprise that shoppable videos are changing the social commerce game. Shoppable videos are a form of interactive video that allows viewers to purchase items directly from the video they’re watching. They typically feature a drop-down menu linking to a product page where a purchase can be made with the tap of a finger.
This format is perfect for embedding on your website, uploading to YouTube, or posting on social media, and it’s already been adopted by big brands such as IKEA, Amazon, YouTube and Instagram. Shoppable video is now even hosted on video platforms such as AiBUY, NTWRK, and Shoploop.
“Shoppable Video takes the interactive video idea and commercializes it, allowing customers to shop as they watch,” says Envato’s Video Marketing Specialist, Jen McKinnon. “The technology is already out there, but, in 2021, it’s likely to really gain steam as brands continue to zero in on video as a valuable marketing tool.”
While it seems high-tech, making a shoppable video for your business is actually quite simple. Platforms such as YouTube and Wideo give you the option to insert call-to-action buttons, product links, email list signups, surveys, and more to your video. Just connect a URL to the interactive options, change the copy and color to fit, and that’s it — you’ve successfully created a simple, professional shoppable video. If you want to learn more about how to create shoppable videos, check out this super handy Beginner’s Guide to Creating Shoppable Video.
3. Augmented Reality
With our world now revolving around technology, augmented reality has had a huge impact on social media over the last few years — and now, it’s infiltrating the world of social commerce.
As opposed to Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality is a technology that projects computer-generated augmentations onto real-life to alter and enhance our experience. Dominating social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, AR filters have become the new norm — these days, it’s rare to see an Instagram Story not altered or enhanced with AR or face-changing technology.
But beyond the fun and games of Instagram filters, AR also opens up endless possibilities for social commerce, giving retailers the ability to enhance their virtual shopping experiences and sell their products in a whole new way.
For example, IKEA’s app lets users test furniture in their homes, and supermarket retailers in the UK have trialed a virtual store tour. Big names such as Vogue and Bloomingdales have even taken to using digital or ‘CGI’ models for their shoots, allowing fashion brands and photographers to use digital fitting rooms to ‘dress’ their subject pre-shoot. And as social commerce and AR technology continues to advance, we predict this trend will reach a whole new level.
“The ability to interact on social media is what sets the medium apart from others, and AR is the next evolution of that interaction”, says Envato’s Social Media Specialist Jo Birleson. “AR technology allows you to superimpose digital interactive experiences over your view of the real world, helping to bridge the online and offline worlds and provide a deeper experience. From a marketing perspective, AR will allow users to interact with a product or brand on a much deeper level than they usually might.”
4. Voice Commerce
With the introduction of voice-activated products such as Google Home, Alexa, Siri, and Apple HomePod, voice technology has gained momentum over the last decade and has fast become the norm for many households. In fact, Loup Ventures recently released figures that, by 2025, 75% of US households will have a smart speaker.
Furthermore, seventy-two percent of consumers use voice search through personal digital assistants, and 25% of consumers have made a purchase using a digital assistant, showing that voice technology isn’t just useful for searching the web or playing a song — it’s even becoming the new way to shop online.
Whether it be a way to search for products online or even introducing voice commands to purchase or add an item to your cart, there’s no denying that voice technology is the way of the future. 94% of brands are now investing in voice technology — and with the rising popularity of voice-activated products — it’s easy to see why you’d want to integrate voice into your social commerce strategy.
Plenty of major franchises are trying their hand at the voice shopping game, with companies such as Amazon and Walmart making it easier for customers to fulfill their shopping lists with voice search. The adoption of this trend by these shopping giants and huge e-commerce platforms points to the fact that voice commerce is just the next step in totally streamlining the online shopping experience.
While Voice Commerce is still in its early stages, we predict that we’ll soon see this trend boom as it continues to grow and develop throughout 2021.
5. Sustainable Ecommerce
In a shift towards becoming more environmentally friendly and addressing the environmental issues impacting our planet, demand for sustainable shopping by consumers is having a big impact on the way brands sell online.
A trend that encompasses environmentalism, waste reduction, and content for good, sustainability is now a consideration for almost every industry on the planet. And as many people adapt their shopping habits to align with their environmental values or sustainable lifestyles, a brand’s commitment to sustainability will be a big factor in their customers’ purchasing decisions.
In fact, Harvard Business Review reports that companies have seen a 65% increase in sales of eco-friendly products. And as customers continue to seek out companies that are more eco-friendly, sustainability is becoming an increasingly pressing topic.
“Over the past year, I’ve seen a shift in thinking from reducing, reuse, recycle to adopting a low carbon, plastic-free lifestyle,” says Kate McInnes, Envato’s Design Content Specialist. “It’s great to see more and more people make sustainable lifestyle choices and use their branding and digital assets to share the message with others.“
Many companies are rising to meet this increased demand, impacting their business practices, their products, and packaging, as well as the message they’re putting forward in their marketing and social media posts. In the US, Pure Gold launched their 6 For 6-Pack program to support organic farming, and Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with the Climate Council for their latest ‘Unfudge our Future’ campaign — a new range of products urging the Australian government to ditch fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy.
With more ads, brands, and products popping up every day that are focused on sustainability and becoming more environmentally friendly, it’s more important than ever to keep this in mind and understand how this will impact the world of social commerce.
“More than ever before, brands are voicing their opinions on important social issues and taking the lead on conversations. And they’re using social media to do so,” says Jo. “Whether it’s content on environmental issues or sustainability, a brand that creates content for good can become more memorable for having a defined position and purpose that goes beyond being solely revenue-driven.“
And there you have it! The top 5 Social Commerce trends to keep an eye on in 2021. Some are already hugely popular, while others are still in their early stages, but there’s no doubt that social commerce is the way of the future.
As social media and e-commerce continue to grow exponentially, we predict that buying and selling products on social media will soon become the norm for most online shoppers — so, it’s more important than ever to make social commerce a priority for your business. Happy selling!
(This guest post is written by Kelsie Rimmer for Hongkiat.com. Kelsie is the Editor of the Envato Blog. Experienced in the fields of design, music, and digital marketing, Kelsie is a connoisseur of all things creative. Editor by day and singer/songwriter by night, she is a dedicated writer, musician, and pun enthusiast.)