3 Reasons Retailers are Selling on Social Media

Social media gives retailers the perfect opportunity to meet consumers where they are, build community and make shopping easy and convenient.

Social media is getting some well-deserved attention as an effective channel for retailers. A panel discussion at National Retail Federation (NRF) 2020 Vision: Retail’s Big Show highlighted some of the inherent benefits for consumers — and for retailers adopting a model that includes selling on social media.

Take the Store to Consumers

If a retailer wants to meet customers where they are, the perfect place is social media. According to Statista, “social media is one of the most popular online activities,” with the number of people using social media globally expected to grow from 2.65 billion in 2018 to nearly 3.1 billion in 2021. Statista also reports that 79 percent of the U.S. population, or 247 million Americans, have social media profiles.

Since many shoppers are already scrolling through social media feeds, liking pages, posting images, and opting into notifications, it’s a logical place for retail engagement. Selling on social media streamlines the buyer’s journey — don’t confuse it with social media marketing that requires users to click a link that directs them back to an e-commerce site to make a purchase. Social commerce enables shoppers to click a button directly from a social media site to buy. Those quick and easy purchases can also reduce shopping cart abandonment that is often associated with online shopping.

Retailers on the Leading Edge

Retailers having success selling on social media illustrate the fact that there isn’t only one way to capitalize on this channel. The NRF Big Show panel showcased Sephora, which drives store traffic with content relevant to customers. It also uses social media as a way of engaging customers who want appointments, even allowing them to schedule them with just a click.

The NRF Big Show panel also included information on how Rent the Runway uses social media to give its community a voice. At any single time, shoppers can find about 500,000 customer testimonials filled with real-world user insights. Rent the Runway also encourages subcommunities, such as women in broadcasting who are expected to dress impeccably daily, providing these groups with information that can help make their lives easier.

The Fundamentals of Selling on Social Media

The first step for retailers who want to make selling on social media a part of their business strategies is to find social-commerce-friendly platforms. Popular choices are:

  • Facebook: In 2016, Facebook Marketplace began giving merchants a place to sell through the platform, introducing artificial intelligence (AI) features that deliver relevant offers to users.
  • Instagram: Shoppable Posts went live in 2018, giving users the ability to purchase items they see in a post.
  • Pinterest: Consumers could shop via buyable pins since 2015, and Pinterest added a shopping cart so users could buy products from different vendors at once.

Beyond working directly with a social media platform to connect with shoppers and enable social commerce, retailers may also choose a third-party solution that supports selling on social media. Integration with the merchant’s e-commerce or management platform will make it easier for retailers to manage business on social channels, as well as collect and analyze data for insights that lead to smarter decision making and a deeper understanding of their markets.

It’s also essential for retailers to have payment solutions that deliver easy, convenient and secure experiences for shoppers.

Prospects of What Lies Ahead

The NRF Big Show panelists pointed out that selling on social media is still a new and growing force in digital marketing, and how retailers will use this channel in the future will evolve and expand. Ensure the retail solutions you implement today have the ability to support social commerce and the way retailers and consumers interact on social platforms in the future.


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Mike Monocello
The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.