Whether you’re a traditional retailer, a pure-play e-commerce company, or a mobile-first seller, you can’t ignore this golden thread: The mobile app is where the action is, with mobile commerce (m-commerce) reaching $431 billion in the U.S. in 2022.
But the shift isn’t just about placing orders and making payments via mobile devices. Mobile shopping has opened many opportunities for disruptive concepts and technologies in the retail space—and social commerce is leading the pack.
It’s time to reimagine how your retail mobile app can deliver a modern and engaging customer experience to help your brand connect with customers and drive sales.
The rise of social commerce
Facebook reported that 83% of shoppers used social media to discover new products and services.
Accenture projects the current $492 billion global social commerce industry will grow three times faster than traditional e-commerce, reaching $1.2 trillion by 2025.
So, how did the mobile shopping trend start, and where is it heading?
The move to online sales led consumers to choose brands that provide detailed product information on their e-commerce platforms. Visual elements such as 360-degree photos and video demos became popular. Meanwhile, online buyers increasingly seek shopping experiences that re-create the immediacy and interactivity of offline experiences.
The shift prompted sellers to implement immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) to deliver an interactive shopping experience and help customers feel confident about their purchases.
Retailers also realized that live streaming on social media platforms offers a great way to build trust and relationships with customers while showcasing their products. Plus, shoppers can interact with each other during the livestream, adding a community aspect to the experience that keeps people engaged.
Brands from Louis Vuitton to Walmart are venturing into live commerce. Fashion, cosmetics, and accessories will lead the shift, but traditional brick-and-mortar industries, such as automotive, groceries, and home appliances, are also gaining traction.
How does social commerce work?
Whether you call it social commerce, m-commerce, livestream shopping, or live commerce, the premise behind the concept is straightforward. Retailers combine live streaming, already available on various social media platforms and well-adopted by consumers, with the ability to make a purchase during the event.
The social buying experience is more than putting a product in the cart and going through the checkout process. It incorporates features that make social media engaging and addictive: The audience can interact with each other, post comments, and react with likes and emojis in real-time.
Besides the opportunity to build instant trust with the audience, sellers can leverage the immediacy of livestreaming to drive sales. For instance, you can offer limited-edition releases or time-specific discounts only available during the event to add a sense of urgency.
E-commerce platforms, social media sites, and other technology providers are taking note. More integrations are in the works to help merchants create engaging social shopping experiences. For example, TikTok has partnered with Shopify to enable sellers to add in-app shopping experiences directly to their videos.
Should you jump on the social commerce bandwagon?
The short answer is: Yes.
Social commerce allows you to reach a wider audience and increase brand exposure. Also, people who actively seek live commerce experiences are more ready to make a purchase.
Consumers like to share their opinions, reviews, and recommendations socially. Positive feedback from users is your best marketing content—after all, 89% of consumers consult online reviews before making a purchase, and 79% of buyers trust these reviews.
The interactive shopping experience enables you to address shoppers’ questions and concerns. Meanwhile, integrating e-commerce capabilities into the livestreaming experience streamlines the buying process and helps increase conversions.
Moreover, social commerce gives you a front-row seat to each customer’s preferences and behaviors. You can access their data and see how they interact with your content to gain in-depth audience insights. You can also analyze conversations on social platforms to gauge consumer sentiment to inform decisions on marketing messaging and product offerings.
Add social commerce to your retail experience
Social commerce is here to stay. It’ll be an integral component of how consumers interact with brands. Retailers must implement the latest features and technologies in their mobile apps to deliver an engaging live shopping experience.
Integrate with social media platforms
The top social selling platforms include Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest. Shoppers can view and buy products without leaving the apps. Thanks to features like Instagram Checkout, they only need to enter their payment information once into their apps and can purchase with one click in the future.
Add interactivity through livestream shopping
You can livestream an event on social media or your mobile app to engage with customers, showcase your products, and allow shoppers to purchase on the spot. Address questions in real-time via live chat and segment your audience to deliver a highly relevant and personalized experience.
Increase engagement with gamification
Implement a loyalty program where customers can earn points by participating in discussions or sharing user-generated content (UGC) such as reviews or product photos. You can add a prize draw toward the end of a livestream event to entice the audience to stick around or create a segment for VIP customers to get exclusive access to perks or new releases.
Bring social commerce to the brick-and-mortar experience
Blur the line between online and offline shopping by enabling shoppers to interact with products and consume content in your store via your mobile app. For example, customers can scan a QR code, see how they look in a piece of clothing (e.g., with a backdrop of their choice,) and share the image directly to social media to get their friends’ comments in real-time.
Deliver an immersive experience with augmented reality
Implement AR capabilities in your mobile app to provide virtual try-on features or allow users to see how your products will look in their environment. For example, Ikea’s AR application uses iOS’s ARKit technology to let shoppers place realistically-rendered, true-to-scale 3D furniture in their homes to visualize how they may use the product.
Social commerce: Interactions are the name of the game
While there are many different ways to deliver an engaging experience depending on your products and customer base, we know one thing for sure: Interactions, whether between your brand and shoppers or among the audience, are at the heart of social commerce.
While you can use social media platforms to support these conversations, you risk shoppers getting distracted by other content on their feeds. Not to mention, you can’t get granular, first-party data to derive in-depth customer insights.
More brands are conducting social and live commerce on their mobile app to keep customers engaged while delivering a branded experience.
In-app messaging is key to facilitating two-way interactions with and among your audience. It allows you to answer questions and provide support throughout the customer journey to drive conversions. You can also offer product recommendations and up-to-date information based on context (e.g., the product a customer is viewing) to deliver a relevant and valuable experience.
Building an in-app messaging function from scratch is complex, but the good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Sendbird’s UIkit allows you to add a chat feature in minutes with pre-built UI components to augment your social commerce experience.
Sign up for Sendird’s free trial to see how easy it is to create a modern retail app that meets today’s consumer expectations.