The social state of play: what’s next for social selling?

The social state of play: what’s next for social selling?

1st December 2021 · Arvato · Blog, News

Authored by Mike Sloman, Business Development Director at ArvatoConnect

Personalisation has become a key battleground for retail customer experience.  

We are ‘always on’ consumers now. Gone are the days when we specifically set aside time to shop for our favourite brands online or on the high street.

This is a mindset that is present throughout the day, driven by increasingly seamless mobile experiences and their integration into how we live our lives.

For retailers adapting to challenge new market conditions, this poses a significant problem. The point of ‘inspiration’ must be as close as possible to the point of ‘check-out’, making it as simple as possible to buy whilst removing the drop-off points that result in abandoned transactions.

This makes social commerce essential to the channel mix.

Opening new storefronts

This means creating new shopping experiences in the places (such as social apps) where people are spending their time discovering new brands, products and services – particularly for Gen Z consumers. Analysis from McKinsey found that more than 40% said social was the biggest influence when making recommendations.

Shops on Taobao, Facebook and Instagram are driving the change, providing bespoke collections and easy to use design tools for retailers to showcase featured products and combine the best of online and in-store shopping.

And brands of all sizes are seeing success. MAC Cosmetics sold out a new collection in less than 60 seconds after launching via Checkout on Instagram and US retailer Petco delivered a 1.9-times return on ad spend through a recent live show on Facebook.

Chinese and now US brands are realising the potential of livestream on social. And at this pace, retailers will welcome this type of commerce in the same way as they have through influencer partnerships – it will simply be part of the digital equation to stay competitive.

In many ways this rolls back the clock. Historically, livestream retail content was delivered through the likes of QVC and other TV shopping channels because it balanced the in-store experience with the comfort of their own homes. Livestream on social is today’s version, where brands can showcase products dynamically, engage with audiences and create urgency.

So, what’s next?

We see livestream developing in three ways over the next few years.

The obvious route is to combine heavy-hitting influencers with livestream to increase amplification and keep consumers engaged for longer. But what’s clear is that the big names with millions of followers are not only expensive to bring on board, but they often don’t make the best hosts.

We expect to see brands increasingly reach out to smaller influencers with more dedicated and engaged follower groups to generate stronger connections with audiences at lower cost. In fact, the same McKinsey research found that the engagement rates for nano-influencers on Instagram are ten times those of their counterparts at the other end of the scale.

And livestream won’t just be the preserve of fashion retail. It will expand into other consumer markets, from healthcare and fitness to automotive and finance, and in time, B2B sectors. Brands are already starting to see the benefit of shifting their digital panel, webinar and conferencing initiatives to livestreaming on social, especially where there is a clear call to action.

Formats will also change. The integration of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will create even more immersive shopping experiences through livestream, where consumers will be able to look at a product from every angle and swipe to try it on in a virtual fitting room before they add to their baskets.

Pioneers of livestream have delivered game changing reach and revenues, but it should not be considered as a tool only for big retailers with big pockets. Brands of all sizes with audiences that primarily use social to shop should be at least be trialling it to see how this dynamic route to sales could work for them.  

Reach out to us to find out more about how we work with our clients to help them deliver more value for their customers – CRMSE@arvatoconnect.co.uk

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