You don’t have to read tea leaves or master divination to see that social commerce is heating up as a huge payments trend this year. Social commerce combines embedded and contextual payments with relevant content that’s proven to increase sales within a (mostly) seamless CX.
Per Adweek, “The expansion of TikTok’s Shopify channel to a global audience — which now includes Australia, Canada, the U.K, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Israel, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam — gives even more merchants access to … self-service tools to be discovered by TikTok users and to optimize their marketing campaigns.”
Recall that in July 2020 over 1,000 advertisers joined in an advertising boycott of Facebook. Investor news site Seeking Alpha recently reported, “Facebook’s top 100 advertisers spent 30 million USD less in July 2020 than the corresponding period in 2019. While it is difficult to separate the effect of the boycott from the effect of the pandemic, it appears that advertising spend on Facebook was reduced by tens of millions of dollars” for full-year 2020.
Which then begs the question: can social commerce make up for — and perhaps even surpass — falling ad revenue with fees and a hefty slice of the social commerce pie? That’s an unknown as the end of Q1 2021 looms, and social selling starts taking flight in a serious way worldwide.
Social Commerce Skirmishes
As news of the Shopify-TikTok expansion hit, so did Facebook’s announcement that it too is doubling down on social commerce with new features for the contextual shopper.
Trade news site InternetRetailing reported in late February about Facebook’s new “Shop” feature, available in the U.K. and Canada, and “allowing retailers to sell on its platform and to integrate selling from Instagram too.”
Per that reporting, Facebook Shop allows retailers “to create a single online selling presence on the platform and to sell from user’s feeds. It also will be closely allied to the company’s other social media selling tools on Instagram, which it launched last year,” adding that Facebook is also connecting to loyalty programs and will be adding shoppable product tags to videos.
Not to be left out — and maybe even a bit ahead of the curve — is Pinterest, whose stock “continues to perform strongly due to continued user growth and improving monetization of users,” Seeking Alpha said, adding, “Pinterest will likely end up with a much larger user base than Twitter or Snapchat, probably comparable to Instagram or TikTok, and the platform is a close fit for social commerce.”
Pinterest is making its platform more shoppable, with innovations like “Product Pins” enhanced with metadata and designed to move merchandise.
It’s Anybody’s Race Right Now, But Favorites Are Emerging
There’s another story afoot here, and it’s the recent Amazon purchase of Selz, the Australian eCommerce startup. Many see that acquisition as Amazon’s response to rivals Shopify-TikTok and Pinterest in helping small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) primarily get up to speed with marketplace and social selling.
As PYMNTS reported at the time of the Selz acquisition, “There are reasons to believe that in some respects, Shopify enters this race with a bit of an edge on Amazon. As New York Times contributor Yiren Lu observed in November of 2o20, ‘if the key to Amazon’s success has been to put the customer first, for Shopify, the key has been to put the merchant first.’”
If Shopify and TikTok are setting the bar at the moment — and it appears they are — then expect copycats and emulators to follow in the path the two are blazing.