Social is becoming increasingly synonymous with retail.
Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, they are all announcing their ambitions to become retailers and to monetise the heavy traffic which they generate. The key: more impulsive buying and a better conversion rate for retailers.

Mobile overtaking desktop

For the first time in 2015, mobile* replaced desktop as the favoured tool for connecting to the internet. In 2016, French people will have made on average 15 purchases** from a mobile device, compared to 10.5 in 2015. In 2019***, spending on advertising aimed at social networks will exceed 50 billion dollars. The trend for mobile internet now appears irreversible. As the activity of social networks is strongly correlated to mobile devices, it was only logical that they would become an integral part of online retailers’ strategy.

Consequently, as well as communicating with customers and providing brands with a shop window to their products, Facebook and the like are now developing advertising and direct shopping functions.

An approach which makes sense when you think that the innovative service**** which interests French people the most is the possibility of buying, selling, exchanging products/services directly on social networks, home to a multitude of influencers. This is notably the case for 37% of 25- to 34-year-olds. Clearly, for these famous millennials, whether it be store, website or social network, the tool must enable them to shop if that is what they want to do.

Buttons for shopping

“Buy it”, “Shop now”, “Buy on”… Whichever words are used, the message is always the same: click and buy. The scope is enormous because it reaches of course not only the followers of the brand in question, but also the shoppers’ followers, causing a ‘snowball’ effect. Welcome to the era of social commerce!

On Twitter, consumers can now buy a product directly from a tweet, without going through a seller’s website. On Instagram, a brand’s account can be transformed into an e-shop, thanks to Instashop.

On Snapchat, advertising videos with the option to buy were launched in April. Target and L’Oréal were the first to test this new m-commerce format.

On Pinterest, the sales approach has been taken a step further with the arrival of a visual recognition tool devoted to shopping: based on a photo of a product taken by the smartphone, the user can find the reference by clicking on a particular item contained in a Pin and buy it! A guaranteed impulse buy!

What about Facebook? It’s very easy to go from ‘like’ to ‘buy’! By clicking on an advert, users see the different products on a page, before being redirected to the site or buying directly.

The Menlo Park corporation has gone so far as to add to the pages of American retailers present on their social network, buttons enabling users to order a home-delivered meal, to buy cinema tickets or to make an appointment at the hairdresser. A complete tool.

A marketplace for diversifying

However, Facebook is thinking even bigger, launching Marketplace last October. This is a new platform of classified ads between private individuals. According to its creator, it could have a huge potential as 450 million people already use Facebook to buy and sell items, representing a quarter of its total active users, estimated at 1.71 billion at the end of the first half of 2016. In other words, a gigantic market.

It almost seems inevitable that Facebook will transform itself into a traditional online retail platform, a rival to Amazon, especially if China is anything to go by. With 800 million users, WeChat, originally a simple instant messaging application, has become an all-in-one application offering a mix of social network, retail platform and payment system. Maybe tomorrow’s model is already staring us in the face.

* Médiamétrie Survey: Internet and mobile use in France in 2015

** Survey realised for RetailMeNot by the Center for Retail Research (CRR), 2016

*** Zénith Optimedia Survey, December 2016

**** 2016 OpinionWay Survey for Trusted Shops