Impact of Social E-Commerce on Society

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Social E-commerce

Ever wondered why ads pop up in between your scrolling fiesta? Or why your YouTube video is bombarded with ads when you click on it? The answer lies with a new concept called Social E-commerce or in other words, Social Commerce. What is this new word that is taking board rooms by storm?

What is Social E-Commerce?

Social Commerce or Social E-commerce is an amalgamation of e-commerce and social media where an interactive atmosphere between buyers and sellers, through user contribution, assists in the sale or purchase of a product. To put it bluntly, social e-commerce is the adoption of social media for e-commerce.

The term social commerce was coined by Yahoo! in November 2005 to describe a synergic set of lists compiled by users to rate a product purchased by them. The answer to the above question is answered in the following lines.

Social e-commerce aims at the following: engaging with customers on a personal level, analyzing social media patterns of netizens and bridging the gap between a customer and her/his favorite brand, providing the customer with a platform to compare prices and research and review products before buying, thereby, opting your products over your competitor’s business. This verifies the question, “What is Social e-commerce?”, but one might ask a question here: how does e-commerce differ from social commerce?

Social Commerce vs E-Commerce

Social E-commerce

In general, e-commerce is a conglomeration of online shopping customers visiting a site, whereas social commerce is the coming together of online vendors. Let me analogize; e-commerce is similar to consumers in a mall, whereas, social commerce is akin to people at social gatherings advertising their products. There is a fine line between social commerce and e-commerce.

The knowledge of social commerce vs e-commerce is of immense use to businesses as it aids in better decision making concerning target audiences, sales and customer interactions and it also helps in understanding the social impact of e-commerce on society.

Earlier, social media was used as a means to interact and connect with people. Sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were used to share pictures, videos and updates from the user’s lives. But with the advent and hike of e-commerce websites like Amazon, Shopify and Desertcart, newer methods to increase sales are being researched and experimented. One such experiment that is here to stay is social commerce.

According to Statista.com, it has been found that adult women spend 2.05 hours and men spend 1.38 hours shopping online in a day. The average time that an adult spends time on a mobile phone is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Additionally, an average internet user spends around 2 hours on social media in a day. It is safe to assume that this is the same demographic that shops online. Therefore, providing the opportunity to buy commodities directly on your favourite social media appears to be a novel approach.

The social impact of e-commerce on internet users is quite substantial. The following data shows us how big-wigs of the social media sphere have ventured into social commerce to have a sizeable impact on e-commerce:

  • Facebook has 1.79 billion users in a day. Considering this mammoth number, Facebook released Facebook Marketplace in the summer of 2018, as competition to Amazon, Shopify, and Google Shopping.
  • Though relatively new, Instagram has over 500 million accounts being used daily. It is not surprising as this social media platform offers users a visual treat with its enticing features to post beautiful pictures and videos. It is widely believed that Instagram is a powerful place to maximise the engagement of users into buying your product. To cash in on this opportunity, Instagram released the ‘shop now’ button in June 2015 and in March 2018, Instagram’s Shoppable posts went live which allowed businesses to tag their items, which when clicked on redirects to a new page that leads to checkout.
  • Pinterest is similar to Instagram in the sense that it offers visually appealing content, but its biggest feature is to share engaging high-quality photos. Pinterest offered a select few brands the feature of ‘buyable pins’ and later on made it available to more brands. In June 2016, it added the option of a ‘shopping cart’ for users to be able to shop from multiple suppliers in one go.

The social network of e-commerce has made it easier for e-commerce to flourish as now, a supplier can link her/his website to social media such as Facebook as a means for their followers to buy goods from them. Customer questions can be answered instantly using social media messaging applications. If a customer chooses to not buy an item, they may leave the interface, but they would still stay on the site or application. Celebrity, influencer and micro-influencer endorsements help gain the trust of a customer, which shows the positive impact social commerce has on its business. A better understanding of proper campaigning is necessary for the social network of e-commerce.

E-commerce websites, on the other hand, are exclusively for the online shopping experience. The customer reviews the item that she/he wants to buy through ratings and reviews left by other customers. Any customer questions are answered through chatbots, or manually, usually within the period of half a day or a day. Also, there is always the peril of a customer leaving a site if they do not like its interface or a product being offered. In the traditional sense of e-commerce websites, the conversion from customer to reviews is very low as compared to social commerce because it is easier far more gratifying and interesting to comment on an influencer’s post than it is to leave a review under a product on an e-commerce website.

The above points make it clear how important it is for businesses to know the tenets of social commerce vs e-commerce.

Social Implications of E-commerce

E-commerce is definitely many steps ahead of its older counterpart of traditional commerce. But in this race to achieve better results quickly, businesses need to understand the social implications of e-commerce and use the social network to further its e-commerce. The full potential of social commerce is yet to be tapped into. To have complete knowledge of the social implications of e-commerce is to have the e-commerce game in one’s hand. It is no surprise that an understanding of the social impact of e-commerce will make it easier to understand the social implications of e-commerce on internet users.

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