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3 reasons social commerce is vital for your online business

One buzzword that you may have noticed getting a lot of attention lately is social ecommerce. But what exactly is this new trend and why is it something that you should care about? At its core, social commerce is selling products via social media platforms, a digital medium that shoppers are already using and feel comfortable with.

While the social commerce concept has technically been around for years with Facebook, Instagram and to some extent Pinterset leading the way, it’s never been more relevant than in today’s lockdown climate. Due to social distancing measures, people are spending more time online and are using their mobile devices to access social media platforms as a “safe” place to connect with friends and family, for entertainment purposes and retail therapy.

A growing number of online retailers are taking advantage of this trend by converting social media users into customers via Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops. According to PayFast data, between January and December 2020 there was a 60% year-on-year increase of online shoppers being referred to the PayFast payment engine via social channels. A closer inspection of our data reveals that there was a 113% increase of shoppers coming from Facebook, and a 35% increase coming from Instagram. This demonstrates that a lot of our registered PayFast merchants are already making use of social commerce to up their game and to stay on top of their customers’ minds. And we expect this number to climb further in 2021, as referenced to in our 2021 payments trends blog.

If you aren’t already, then now is the perfect time to start implementing social commerce into your online business strategy. Here are three examples why:

1. Social commerce simplifies the online shopping process

Social commerce removes friction in the customer journey by simplifying the process from discovery to purchase. When browsing Instagram for example, if the shopper sees an item they like they can simply click on it, be redirected to your online store and buy it. This process can drastically reduce cart abandonment, as it’s easier to keep the customer’s attention. A simple and easy shopping experience results in happy customers who are more likely to return and recommend your business to their social network.

2. Turn your ideal target market into customers

If your target market lies in the 18 to 34 age range then social commerce is a goldmine. This age group is already spending the majority of their time on these platforms. Facebook has excellent marketing tools, so you can easily run an experiment with ads targeting your ideal customers (including age, gender, location and their hobbies or preferences). Your Facebook store can also link to your Instagram account, which younger people are more active on.

Another benefit of social commerce is that you can get instant feedback on your marketing efforts and products by talking directly with your audience. This can be done via posts, live videos and direct messages. The more interactive you are the better as it creates more brand awareness.

3. It’s easy to get going if you already have an online store

In some countries Facebook Shops enable shoppers to buy items directly from Facebook without being redirected to the merchant’s online store. Until this functionality is more widely available in other countries, Facebook Page Shops is a great feature for social commerce. Facebook Page Shops essentially acts as a storefront for your online store where you can display product photos, descriptions and prices with a link to your actual online store where the items can be purchased. These pages are customisable so you have free range to experiment with the look and feel and what products to feature.

There are a variety of ecommerce shopping cart platforms that integrate with Facebook and Instagram. Ecwid is a popular example that allows you to conveniently manage your Facebook store (or anywhere else you sell online for that matter) from your Ecwid dashboard. Many other leading shopping carts also offer plugins and extensions that integrate with Facebook and Instagram, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento and OpenCart. To find out which one shopping cart would be suitable for your business needs, read our Ecwid blog, as well as this one where we compare Shopify and WooCommerce.

PayFast integrates with all of the shopping cart platforms listed above, and more, allowing you to offer your social media clientele a convenient and safe way to pay you online via their preferred payment method. All you need to do is register for a free PayFast account and integrate it with your shopping cart by following the instructions specific to your platform, which can be found on our carts listing page.

Social commerce is an exciting trend that holds a lot of possibility for the South African ecommerce market. No matter where you are in your ecommerce journey, PayFast is ready to be your trusted online payments partner and help you succeed in social commerce and beyond.

Useful resources:
PayFast
PayFast is a leading online payment processing solution for individuals, NPOs and businesses of all sizes in South Africa.
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