UX Lab - Why on-site social commerce should be at the heart of your ecommerce strategy
Most companies already use a multitude of off-site social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc… and there is no doubt that these provide value. However, they are primarily revenue & traffic generators for those social networks themselves, rather than for the companies that use them. Retailers will try to spread themselves across as many as possible, as they rise and fall in popularity, and are then at the whim of their users as to which one(s) they decide to use/interact with. This means trying to engage with their audience on multiple channels that are all hosted externally by companies/websites over which they have no control, and whose policies can change whenever they feel like it.
Now, imagine the power of those social media channels and their engagement, but all carried out within their own ecommerce site (where brands can interact, learn, engage, influence and sell without the same competition posed by third party social sites. A good way to think of it is; off-site social commerce is aimed at enabling people to shop where they socialise (or at least link to an ecommerce store) , whereas on-site social commerce is aimed at enabling users to socialise where they shop. There is a key difference.
Benefits of on-site social commerce
- Consumer insight drives marketing and product/services R&D.
- Create stickiness - more chance to sell more if user is on their site, especially if combined with below.
- Personalise/deliver content, products, offers that match users's wants, needs and desires.
- Ability to test, optimise their products/engagement messaging to different user groups to be sure of effectiveness before sending to wider market.
- Rich, unique content helps drive Search Engine Rankings.
- If the user is on their website they are influencing them, not their competitors!
This opens up large possibilities and benefits for brands deploying an on-site social commerce layer and tools.
CommunityA loyal community of users all on their website(s), not spread across multiple 3rd party channels, increasing brand stickiness, site visits and engagement. This allows users to upload content, follow/unfollow each other, and like or comment on what other users post or upload. This also provides the retailer with a captive audience, all in one place, to best learn, react and target their users from with invaluable data gained which is not available via third party sites. Brands are then best able to see their customers as individuals and be able to react to their needs, wants and interests. This all leads to brand advocacy, increased sales and extended brand engagement.
Winsor & Newton are a prime example of a leading manufacturer and multichannel retailer using on-site social commerce at the heart of their ecommerce. They have developed an online hub where artists can share their works, ideas, tips & techniques and much more combined with class-leading ecommerce capabilities.
We already know that peer referrals and recommendations carry far more weight than a merchant’s own marketing, but referrals by friends and like -minded contacts carry further weight still.
Merchants can also use live activity feeds, both individual and community-wide, to display the key actions of other/followed members within their communities to further enhance them. The feeds can be turned on or off as desired and include actions such as what users have commented on, liked, watched, visited, interacted with or even bought.
This visibility of end users gives retailers increased insight into what products they are using, how they are using them and how often, as well as which content they are viewing and engaging with, plus other basic information such as demographics etc... This is invaluable for potentially aiding new product development, personalisation of content and re-marketing campaigns, and is much harder to glean from a plethora of off-site social networks than from a single source under a merchant’s complete control. Merchants can even actively seek product feedback and suggestions to aid their new product development and engage users further, promoting a greater connection with their brand.
Ultimately the main driver of a retailer’s ecommerce site is to grow sales both directly, and indirectly if they sell through their own stores or third party channels. A direct link to their primary ecommerce store, on the same site, brings users (who have already shown greater purchasing intent by being there on an ecommerce site in the first place), one step closer to purchasing, and increases the likelihood of conversion, especially when receiving endorsements from other community members of existing users/friends.
It provides a single source of all a retailer’s content such as articles, demonstrations, and resources alongside unique, user-generated content like uploaded images, videos and comments: great for both their users and the increased SEO benefits it brings. It also helps establish and endorse the link between the merchant’s products and what user’s interact with or upload, providing a powerful validation and demonstration of the merchant’s products.
Find out more about content-led ecommerce
SEO and Data
Unique, constantly growing and evolving content is an invaluable asset to aid search engine rankings within an already over-congested digital world. This can be one, if not the, key differentiator to maintaining a higher ranking than their competitors.
A rich source of critical data on their user's; wants, likes and desires, normally out of reach for most brands to obtain, provides the level of intelligence to ensure marketing, brand image, products and services are aligned to their target market but also with the ability to detect early changes in tastes allowing brands to stay ahead of their competitors.
A single source of analytical data means results and feedback are much easier to gather and scrutinise than trying to collect and compare this from multiple channels. Also, importantly, this information is then wholly owned by the retailer.