Social Shopping from TikTok to Instagram: The Skills Executives Need to Succeed in an Emerging Field
Those who work in retail industries know just how much e-commerce has transformed their business models over the past twenty years. But as usage of social media explodes, many companies are keen to understand the role of “social shopping,” that is a retail journey that incorporates a “social” experience or social tools as a baked-in feature of the transaction.
As social networks reward authenticity and eschew transparent sales pitches, the field of social commerce has been a tough nut for the major players in retail to crack. But as younger consumers flock to networks like TikTok, it’s become ever more urgent for executives in retail to understand this vitally important component of the e-commerce ecosystem.
What is Social Shopping?
Social shopping is a broad category that can include several different features that live inside of a social media app like Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok, including:
- Social media storefronts, shop tabs or dedicated feeds that allow consumers to shop within a social network like Instagram
- Shoppable organic posts where a retailer can embed prices and buy now links in regular posts
- Live shopping: live shopping is a $170 billion dollar business in Asia, and looks poised to break out in the United States with brands such as Aldo and Walmart trying out live shopping capabilities
Social Shopping Vs Traditional E-Commerce: What’s Different
In some ways, social shopping may look like e-commerce under a new name. After all, social shopping still incorporates targeting, ad buying and the typical online purchase dynamics. But in several important ways, social shopping requires a new attitude toward the online space:
- Traditional e-commerce has leverage major celebrities and influencers, while social shopping is more reliant on peers and peer-like community members to influence buying behavior.
- Traditional e-commerce is more focused on the demand-fulfillment side of the buying process (a customer wants x specific thing and seeks it out through search) while social shopping aims to create a bespoke shopping experience that will keep consumers engaged over a longer period of time.
Who are the Most Successful Players in Social Commerce
On networks like Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok, you can see brands trying all sorts of techniques in terms of social selling, including:
- Rothy’s shoes uses a Shopify integration Pinterest to ensure their details, prices and buying links stay attached to product shots when shared within the popular social network.
- Vertically integrated digital brands like Glossier pair organic, shoppable posts with integrated storefronts on Instagram
- Denim brand Good American used TikTok video and user generated content to drive traffic to a in-app storefront
How Traditional Sales Channels Can Be Leveraged in Social Shopping
The live shopping network QVC has been experimenting with offering their time-tested form of live shopping to the social media space, where live videos can draw a large and engaged audience.
Social shopping also piggybacks on a popular retail trend we’ve seen come to prominence in recent years: creating “experiential” environments that encourage users to try out and explore products.
What Type of Executives are Needed to Master Social Commerce
Social shopping requires players who understand the e-commerce marketplace fully and can use data and creativity to explore new avenues via the social networks.
Executives in the realm of marketing, sales, e-commerce and revenue are all highly sought after in this emerging space.
When we are recruiting for social commerce or e-commerce positions, we look for:
- Data driven candidates with a strong focus on revenue
- Individuals who have experience in building cross-channel campaigns
- Executives who can speak about campaigns in depth, from creative through execution through evaluation, along with all relevant metrics
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