Navigating Social Commerce to Grow Sales

 By Christine Kelley, Feb. 14, 2024

A young woman promoting her parcel via social media.

Social commerce is a young, but growing, channel for eCommerce

When we look at social commerce—the use of social media channels to facilitate the sale of products and services directly to consumers—consider that the concept is far younger than the first iterations of social media that originated over 20 years ago. So, it’s astonishing to read data from Statista that states, in the U.S., there are already 107 million social shoppers transacting nearly $65 billion in purchases directly on social platforms. This represents 5.9% of e-retail sales and is forecast to grow substantially. Statista goes on to report that nearly $1 trillion in social commerce has been transacted globally.  

Social Commerce vs. Traditional eCommerce 

Social commerce differs from traditional eCommerce in many ways. To start, it brings in the element of “social proof,” where decisions are influenced by peers, celebrities, and paid influencers all on the same platform where purchases are actually facilitated—using buy buttons, shoppable posts, and in-app purchases. Social commerce also does a better job than eCommerce of community building for brands, rallying like-minded individuals. 

Coupling paid advertising and owned content to any existing brand affinity that occurred organically, social commerce creates a sort of extreme personalization, with personas and lookalike targets specific enough to greatly reduce cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) expenses for brands. And according to Influencer Marketing Hub, social media users spend two or more hours per day scrolling through feeds on an average of 7.5 different platforms, which means that, unlike traditional eCommerce, social commerce conveniently reaches consumers where they are already interacting.  

Hurdles to clear to open up social commerce for your brand 

Audience analysis 

There are challenges for brands to be aware of when kickstarting a social commerce capability. From a customer perspective, there are targeting specifics. Brands should work to gather deep intel on customers, such as demographic information and the social platforms on which they are most likely to engage and purchase. Brands must also work to understand their customer’s buyer journey and the factors that are influencing their purchase decisions. For example, how important are the following considerations for your customer:  

  • People I know bought the product
  • People I follow endorsed the product 
  • There are negative product reviews or low-star ratings even when an influencer recommends a product 

Logistics and fulfillment 

Brands need to carefully consider the logistics and fulfillment challenges associated with social commerce, as well. How do you efficiently tie into social platforms from an order, fulfillment and last-mile delivery perspective?  

Prepare for demand surge 

Brands must solve for higher purchasing volumes because they’re opening up a new sales channel, and also solve for potentially sudden demand surges should a product go viral. There is a myriad of recent examples of products that have become suddenly popular and neither production nor fulfillment could keep up. 

Social Commerce Shipping, Solved 

For brands with, or who are adding, a social commerce component to their eCommerce sales mix, selecting the right eCommerce shipping partner can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Generally speaking, brands employing a multi-carrier (or multi-delivery partner) strategy will offer the most optimized shipping experience for customers on a number of fronts.   

There are several considerations when vetting shipping partners to provide consumers with dependable options: 

Delivery cost and speed:  

Key to the consumer’s wallet, balancing cost and speed also has a significant impact on the brand’s bottom line. Not everything needs to be delivered overnight, and customers want choices and tradeoffs with delivery options (e.g. 2-5 day delivery). Many brands do benefit from a next-day delivery option, but equally important are slightly slower but far less expensive options that can help decrease purchase abandonment and build customer loyalty. 

Reliability:  

Look for a well-established delivery partner with a long-proven reputation for on-time deliveries and great overall customer service. According to one survey of shoppers, when it comes to last-mile delivery, 76% of respondents said that an unacceptable delivery experience would strongly or somewhat affect their decision to repeat order a product. 

Geographic coverage:  

Look for a delivery partner that’s as good at covering non-metro and rural areas as they are at covering deliveries to population centers. And one with consistent pricing for every U.S. address. Consider consolidator partners of the USPS as they are able to add value and speed to the USPS service, which is already delivering to every mailbox in the country six days a week. 

Sustainability:  

A survey found that nearly 80% of consumers will wait at least one day if it means their shipment arrives in a more sustainable way, and another 80% say that companies use excessive packaging for shipments. Again, consumers want options. Look for a partner that works with you to find environmentally friendly solutions to reduce the use of unnecessary packaging materials and has a marketable delivery approach that minimizes fossil fuel consumption. Partners with independently verified carbon reduction or carbon neutrality certifications are desirable for both people and planet.  

Trending Technology: 

As tech is a key driver of the social commerce movement, it should be addressed when vetting shipping partners. Can the prospective shipping partner tap into your eCommerce platform and any other APIs and integrations you’re running? This will dictate everything from seamless package handoffs to in-app or on-site tracking capabilities. Or, since customer service is an area where human touch actually enhances the technology experience, is the partner equipped with in-house agents or team members who can troubleshoot shipping questions and issues for your end customers?  

For brands with products and services that appeal to the nearly 5 billion social media users globally, social commerce has great value as a supplement to the traditional eCommerce sales channel. Going to market in this space requires preparations on a variety of fronts, including customer journey mapping, social listening, and influencer engagement, not to mention production, fulfillment, and shipping. The right shipping partner will save time and money for your brand while providing excellent customer experience and affordable, reliable deliveries.  

If you found this article helpful, check out more of our blog content. You can learn about topics such as how a great eCommerce shipping service reduces cart abandonment, why packaging decisions matter to your business, and how the right shipping partner can grow your business. 

OSM Worldwide can help a brand’s social commerce strategy succeed. Contact us to discuss your shipping needs and request a quote.  

About the Author

Christine Kelley, vice president of marketing at OSM Worldwide, helps optimize business strategy through integrated marketing initiatives. Prior to joining OSM Worldwide, Christine held positions at various Chicago advertising agencies before moving over to corporate marketing roles with top retail brands. Christine is adept at implementing programs that align with buyers to dramatically improve sales performance.