Social commerce: Where are all the retailers?

Social commerce is booming, but German retailers aren’t making the most of selling on Instagram and similar platforms.

Social commerce is hardly being leveraged by German retailers.
Image: © Zamrznuti tonovi / Adobe Stock

What is social shopping all about?

Social commerce is in its heyday. In Germany too, Facebook and Instagram in particular are currently hubs of shopping activity. All the more reason for German retail companies to align their marketing measures accordingly. But what exactly is social commerce?

Social commerce, also known as social shopping, is a term to describe online retail on social media platforms. Customers can shop directly on the platforms – something that especially appeals to Generation Z.

Retailers can therefore really profit from using Facebook and similar sites as a selling platform. However, a recent study conducted by Agorapulse on social media in retail, social commerce isn’t particularly prevalent among German retailers. One reason is that their marketing budgets are being wasted on the wrong channels and formats. As part of the study, Agorapulse analyzed around 160,000 Facebook and Instagram posts between September and December 2022 and found that marketers in the DACH region posted much less frequently than sellers in the U.S., UK, and France, who embrace social shopping to a greater extent.

What’s holding German sellers back?

Agorapulse’s study also revealed that retailers in Germany seemed to be posting content via the wrong channels simply because they didn’t know any better. For example, it was observed that Instagram Reels generated twice as much engagement as other post formats, while videos were similarly the main driver of interactions on Facebook. However, neither of these factors was reflected in the posting behavior of German retailers: 60 percent of their Instagram posts were photos – on Facebook, it was even 80 percent. Their interaction rate suffered accordingly.

To use WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram as a selling platform, you first need to analyze what formats they each offer. Marketers should also be aware that using hashtags can have a different impact depending on the platform: Agorapulse found that they can generate more reach in some cases, for example when incorporated into Instagram posts. In contrast, when used on Facebook, they can even have a negative effect on engagement and reach.

Social commerce: benefits for retailers and brands

Social commerce is especially popular among younger consumers. A survey conducted by Capterra found that, among the some 1,000 respondents aged between 18 and 76, Generation Z was the main group to have already experienced shopping on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. More than 50 percent of Gen Zers had bought at least one product on social media in the past six months, with another 32 percent showing an interest in this kind of shopping experience.

Retailers and brands would therefore be wise to harness the potential of social commerce. Countless users come together on social media to interact, share content, upload reviews, and pass on personal recommendations, so there couldn’t be a more perfect space for ramping up your online retail!