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These days, going the ecommerce route is a perfectly viable way of starting your business. You can organize your store online, build up a following, and generate significant profits. Running a brick-and-mortar store is no longer a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success.

So, how did all of that happen? Why is running an ecommerce business now more attainable than it was before? A significant part of the ecommerce boom, especially as it relates to smaller businesses, can be attributed to the prevalence of social commerce. 

Let’s take a closer look into how social commerce has enabled numerous ecommerce brands and businesses to thrive online. 

Defining Social Commerce

Many people are already familiar with the term ecommerce; however, social commerce is not quite as common. With that in mind, let’s take a moment to define it clearly:

Social commerce is about using social networking sites to both buy and sell goods and services. The transactions themselves are completed within the social networking site. That’s a key difference between social commerce and the ecommerce transactions we are so familiar with — when it comes to social commerce, you’re using a third-party app or website to buy something from a business. 

If you’re trying to complete an ecommerce transaction, you will have to head to the company’s website or perhaps use a branded app. With social commerce, think “making a purchase via Instagram,” for example. Below shows how the brand Tasty Tie (™) makes this happen:

The brand also has an ecommerce store where they sell the same product, which you can see here. So the Instagram shop is the social commerce strategy, while the website shop is the ecommerce one.

Below is another example from one of our former clients, Discover Corps; this time showing how a store can look on Facebook: 

The Benefits of Utilizing Both Social Commerce and ecommerce

Should you prioritize ecommerce transactions or focus more on social commerce for your business? The good news is, you don’t have to choose. You can (and should) use both social commerce and ecommerce to generate more sales for your business. In our opinion, using both social commerce and ecommerce is a must in this day and age. 

Included below are the reasons why you need to lean on both if you want your business to grow:

1. You’ll Gain Access to More Potential Customers

Your entrepreneurial venture won’t succeed if you don’t have access to potential customers. According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of adults in the U.S. use at least one social media site, and they use those sites quite often. 70 percent of adults visit Facebook at least one time per day. Meanwhile, 60 percent of adults check into Instagram. Which social channel you want to focus on will depend on your demographics (Facebook generally skews older than Instagram), which you can learn more about here

In other words, posting your products and services on various social networking sites will make them more visible to your target consumers. Give your offerings as much exposure as they can get. These platforms can provide more detailed descriptions of the products and services you’re selling along with other pieces of high-value content, so this gives you another avenue to direct interested customers there if they still have reservations about your offerings. 

Also, keep in mind that your ecommerce platforms will continue to have essential roles in your overall plan even as you adopt a social commerce strategy. After all, there are still people who don’t use social media or have no interest in purchasing social accounts). So make sure they have access to your products and services by offering your ecommerce business link when possible. 

2. You’ll Promote Your Business More Effectively

In addition to gaining access to new customers, you want to use both social commerce and ecommerce platforms because the combination will boost the visibility of your business. Posting ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whichever other social networking sites you use to promote your business can go a long way. Even if these ads point to your ecommerce store (as opposed to your store on social media), that can still be considered a social commerce strategy. 

3. You Have Another Avenue for Communication 

Business transactions don’t always go smoothly from start to finish. Sometimes, an interested customer may have a question about a product you’re selling. Try as they might to find the necessary details on the listing; they just cannot do it — some want to reach out to you to get their question answered, but they’re turned off by the idea of sending an email.

One of the great things about social commerce is that it fully leverages the communication features of social networking sites. Since you’re on social media, the interested buyer can send you a message right away. If you’re online at that time, you can also respond promptly.

You can also keep using the messaging features attached to your ecommerce platforms to field customer questions and concerns, so you have all of your bases covered. In short, the way you provide customer service can improve significantly if you use ecommerce platforms and social commerce together.

One Major Item to Keep in Mind when Getting Started with a Social Commerce Strategy

Regardless of where the purchase is made, offer a convenient shopping experience to all your customers. User experience must be something you are always mindful of when you’re designing the shopping experience for your customers. After all, one of the main draws of shopping online is convenience. Taking that aspect of it away is just going to push your potential customers to other businesses.

Imagine a scenario wherein one of your potential customers sees one of your products online. They become interested in buying it, but they’re taken to Facebook after clicking on the link. Now that they’re being asked to log in before they can look at the product, they’ve suddenly lost interest.

On the flip side, shoppers may be discouraged if they can only buy products from your business by leaving a social networking site. It may just be one additional step, but it’s a step that many shoppers don’t want to take.

Your job as a business owner is to cater to your customers, so make your goods and services accessible via the platforms that your customers prefer. After doing so, you’ll be able to see your sales numbers rise.

The Takeaway

In short, social commerce does not take the place of your ecommerce store but simply amplifies it. Therefore, it is not a one-or-the-other scenario, and the businesses that can figure out how to get social commerce to work harmoniously with their ecommerce processes are the ones who see their business move to new heights. 2021 is your year to make the move. So set up those products and get your feet wet — the future of online business is here, and it’s called social commerce.