Brick-and-mortar retail was a significant revenue-driver as recently as 2019 — even digitally native brands, like Everlane and Allbirds, moved to open storefronts over the past few years. But Covid-19 has changed everything, accelerating levels of e-commerce growth not previously expected until at least 2022.
This next phase of retail lies in “live shopping” — interactive content from which a consumer can directly make a purchase — spurring a shopping experience starkly different from the days when HSN and catalogs once dominated.
The opportunity for brands to reach and convert more customers is unprecedented, and recent shopping updates from social media giants like Facebook and TikTok signal this is only the beginning. Here’s what’s new and what it means for the future of e-commerce.
Instagram’s new checkout feature will make it easier than ever to sell products through the app.
Shopping is becoming increasingly convenient, and consumers appreciate it. People want a simple user experience, and Facebook is providing that through their various owned platforms — most notably via Instagram.
Instagram Checkout allows users to quickly buy a product without ever leaving the app. Their payment details are then saved for future orders — creating a seamless purchase process and another valuable touchpoint to convert more customers and increase sales fast.
Not only will users be able to shop directly from brands’ posts, but the update also allows access to other features like “Shopping from Creators” and “Live Shopping.” People can buy products straight from an influencer’s feed and stories, while companies are provided tools to better attribute revenue to those posts.
It’s no secret the impact influencers have on the Instagram ecosystem. For example, they’ve single-handedly shifted the popularity and value to stories and away from in-feed posts. These new shopping updates signal that it will be more important than ever to strengthen your brand’s influencer relationships. Consumers will continue to expect more authentic content from brands as social retail increasingly becomes the norm, and there’s no better way to create that content than with an influencer.
TikTok announced its first commerce partnership with Shopify.
TikTok is one of the most downloaded apps with global downloads reaching beyond 2 billion, with Q1 of 2020 marking 315 million downloads in a single quarter. The platform generated $115.3 million from user spending in 2019, yet only about 4% of U.S. social media marketers were using the platform at that time.
What may be marginalized as a Gen Z-only platform has a surprising audience that marketers can (and should) leverage to grow their brand. While most users fall between the ages of 16 and 24, it’s worth noting that about 40% of TikTok profiles belong to users over 25.
TikTok has found itself in the position to be a leading revenue-driver for brands, and Shopify was the first to step in and fill the void. The pair announced their commerce partnership last month; merchants can now deploy in-feed, shoppable video ads on TikTok, directly within their Shopify store.
This partnership is just the start of what is sure to be a domino effect on TikTok as more brands look to interact with Gen Z. Businesses will, in tandem, start to gain the ability to directly attribute revenue to specific content and actions as the platform continues to grow and evolve.
As it stands, there are very few sponsored posts that live on TikTok, combined with a disproportionate amount of daily users versus brand accounts. This presents an immense opportunity to drive brand awareness on a platform with little competition — but expect these circumstances to change quickly.
TikTok understands its advantage, and they will likely soon deliver a better solution for marketers to track ROI. The Shopify integration is the first significant step toward a more profitable business model, and brands should be paying close attention to how the partnership plays out.
Amazon Live has taken on live shopping, too.
Arguably the most dominant selling platform in existence, Amazon could very well move into the social media space as the lines between social networking and e-commerce continue to be blurred. As Facebook and TikTok ramp up their shoppable features, Amazon is simultaneously working on weaving influencers and organic-looking content into its selling strategy.
The retail giant has taken cues from both QVC and Instagram to create its own live shopping experience: Amazon Live. Here, hosts and guests promote and interact with shoppable products. They’ve also introduced lifestyle videos spanning topics like “Recipes” and “Getting Fit” to provide use-case examples and content for promoted products and brands.
Like Amazon’s Twitch.tv platform, streamers can actively chat about what they are watching on Amazon Live, adding social commentary between brands and potential customers. This level of interaction, content and interconnectivity between Amazon and its shoppers adds a new element of bringing reviews, videos, and purchasing together to benefit brands, advertisers and consumers alike.
The takeaway: Be agile.
It’s crucial for brand owners to stay informed and aware of the changing online ecosystem as they invest in making social platforms profitable channels for their business. The shift toward live shopping and social retail will only continue to intensify; social media has undoubtedly become an integral part of our society, and advertising best-practices are known to follow consumer behavior.
Brands that are quick to pivot and adapt to new features and platforms will likely be those that succeed in performance marketing and in turn help shape this newly forming trend.