Social selling: New features, new luck

These are the features with which social platforms are again trying to profit from eCommerce.

Social selling: New features, new luck

From Black Friday to Singles’ Day: Retailers are always coming up with new hooks with which to spark the desire to shop, and they also do so on social media. After all, users often turn to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat as a source of inspiration for the latest trends. To date, users do not shop directly on the social portals, however – in contrast to the shopping days seen in the US and China. This may now be changing: the portals have come up with new strategies with which to shape the customer journey from start to finish. Not just to inspire, but to sell, too. We present an overview.


1. Pinterest and the Product Pin

Whether it’s ideas on new trends or the latest styles: for many users, the image-sharing portal serves as a source of inspiration. In contrast to Instagram and Snapchat, here the users have come to the portal with a specific intention to buy: this is shown in the Products category, which is growing by 115 percent a year. With this in mind, Pinterest offers retailers particularly attractive opportunities to escort users through the customer journey from beginning to end: starting with the inspiration and – nearly – concluding with the purchase.

For this purpose, Pinterest offers the Shop the Look function, which are not just for major retailers, as before, but that can now be used for SMEs as well. It has updated its Product Pins, too. The focus is on shopping recommendations: to make the products users have found while browsing accessible more quickly, the portal offers links to the item in the shop, along with information on availability. A price-tag icon on the product itself displays dynamic price and availability information. Clicking on this takes the user straight to the item in the shop.

Thanks to this important additional information, which checks inventories in real time, Pinterest reports 40 percent more clicks on retailers each month – compared to the older Buyable Pin format. So the new Product Pins will replace the Buyable Pins in the future.


2. Snapchat and the Location feature

Shopping has a role to play with this app, too. Compared to Pinterest, though, Snapchat has to take a more playful approach to the customer journey. With this in mind, the former Buy Button has since been replaced by the Shoppable AR Lenses, Shoppable Snap Ads and Shoppable Story Ads products. The Collection Ads offer a good overview of the products: Field tests have already been carried out with retailers such as Guess und eBay. Products are displayed there as if in a catalog.

The Shoppable AR Lenses are a particularly good fit for Snapchat. After all, the platform has always used filters to link the world with virtual reality. Brands can add a button to their augmented-reality lenses – and users can then use the button to buy the product, for instance.

For Snapchat, too, it pays to hold onto the eCommerce business and to continue to experiment. A study by Cowen and Company found that one-fifth of all Snapchat users in the US have already purchased a product discovered on the platform. The drawback on this thus far is: they didn’t buy it right away, and they often didn’t buy it digitally, either.

That’s why Snapchat also launched a Location function to merge online and offline via targeting. As PK Creedon, Associate Director of Paid Social at iProspect, tells Emarketer, the feature works “extremely well.” Even better than Facebook’s Awareness Ads, which have a similar approach but are less granular.


3. Instagram and an integrated payment function

The photo service Instagram wants to heat up purchasing using a direct-payment feature. Introduction of the Shoppable Tag dates to 2016: But the tag simply takes users to the online shop of the particular provider posting the tag. Now Instagram is testing a payment feature that is integrated right into its app. This is a variation the other portals don’t offer. And that ultimately enables a genuinely seamless customer journey.

To use the payment function, Instagram users have to store a credit- or debit-card data and define a PIN. Payments can then be processed directly in the app, and the payment process is shortened. Up until now, users clicking on a ‘Buy’ button are directed to the particular company’s online shop via an integrated browser. There, they first have to log in or, if need be, register anew. That takes time. And that, in turn leads to sale cancellations. It is no accident that Amazon introduced One-Click Payment some time ago.

Only a few select users in the UK and the US have activated the feature thus far. The companies that use the payment function include Resy, the reservations platform. But soon movie tickets will be available for reservation and direct payment via Instagram.


The bottom line:

Retailers who want to inspire are certainly in good hands on all platforms. Those who want to sell directly are sure to find a dependable partner in Instagram: A one-click payment feature offers consumers maximum convenience, which demonstrably favors purchases. Those who want to incorporate playful elements to appeal to younger target groups, on the other hand, should rely on Snapchat. Pinterest remains the portal for the target group of women: Young fashionistas and crafting mommies alike can now be more efficiently taken and tempted to make purchases in a shop of their own.