Social commerce is on the rise and by 2025, Accenture predicts that  social shopping is set to become a US$1.2 trillion channel.  Just last week, Twitter said it would be launching Twitter Shops for merchants to curate a catalogue of products for their Twitter audience and build on product discussions already happening on its platform. With the new function, Twitter will give shoppers a point of action where a conversation can become a purchase.  Meanwhile, in the US Pinterest has also just launched "Try On" for home decor, an AR function which allows shoppers to try out home furniture and products before they buy as the platform sees more of its users looking for immersive online experiences that help them make purchase decisions from the comfort of their home.

According to Jeremy King, SVP of Engineering, Pinterest, the pandemic has resulted in a growth of digitally savvy shoppers who now want to explore virtual and mobile options to try before they buy. “These behaviours are happening across Pinterest every day, which is why we’re continuing to advance technologies like AR Try On and make Pinterest a full funnel shopping destination that takes people from inspiration to purchase anywhere in the app,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube have all also made their move into the eCommerce space. While most of these platforms are somewhat image and video heavy, what makes Twitter stand apart from its competitors however, is the fact that the platform is a text heavy one. 

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE , Simon Paterson, chief of eCommerce insights and innovation, ADA said that Twitter might have a very different offering from its competitors, but what will set it apart is speed and convenience of checkout. “The ability to capture customers’ attention straight away and convert them is a marketing dream that is coming true across many social media platforms. Twitter with its already high engagement rates will be a very exciting platform to extend our sales touch points,” said Paterson.

He added that like with any platform, customer experience will be key, and understanding the expectation is a must.

Adding to the conversation, Alva Chew senior consultant of Stridec added that social platforms that can best make the transition into social commerce would be the ones that understand the interaction nature and needs of its users and use social commerce as an extension of that need, rather than just rolling out commerce features for the sake of keeping up with the competition. For Twitter, the platform can take advantage of its text format and interlink special hashtags to direct ecommerce checkout features, shared Chew.

“Twitter can take advantage of its innate platform strength, which is immediacy of content delivery, to position itself as the go-to social channel for brands to push out time-limited promotions and flash sales campaign,” said Chew, adding that the platform’s new offering is definitely worth exploring.

Standing out in Asia

Paterson added that to take on the SEA market, Twitter must ensure a consistent customer experience. “With eCommerce platforms becoming more social, it is up to platforms such as Twitter to be able to ride on the reverse and ensure the right customer experience. This means order checkout is easy, pay is easy and delivery is on time,” he said.

Competition across Southeast Asia is very high, but luckily with so many players the opportunity for partnerships to ensure a great experience is also high.

Chew added that Twitter should also start by making it easy for individuals to promote their home based products and services on it, rather than directly heading to businesses.

According to reports by Accenture, with social commerce growing, China will remain the most advanced market both in size and maturity, yet the highest growth will be seen in developing markets such as India and Brazil. The report says that these emerging markets have the potential to leapfrog eCommerce as social commerce mecomes the new business model which opens up opportunities for individuals and small business.

Accenture added that for platfroms:

Social commerce opens up new revenue streams just as growth in digital advertising is expected to slow.

Accenture also outlines that social commerce engages in three principal ways, via brands, influencers or individuals themselves:

1. Content-driven: Unique content created by brands, influencers or individuals drives authentic discovery, engagement, and action. For example, social media users are discovering new goods and experiences via shoppable posts and in-app stores on Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram to name a few.

2. Experience-driven: These experience driven channels enable shopping within an overall experience, most commonly livestreaming, but could also include AR / VR experiences or gaming.

3. Network-driven: People are harnessing their existing social networks to buy and/or sell. That could mean getting together to procure bulk discounts – a model. Or it could mean individuals using their influence and network to drive sales and earn commissions.

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