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The rise of ‘social commerce’ – a bandwagon well worth jumping on


There’s always a ‘latest thing’ when it comes to retail. Be it augmented reality experiences, new ways to pay (by Laybuy, for example!) or personalisation, the retail industry has to be one of the fastest changing industries over the last decade. Whilst this evolution is great in so many ways for retailer and consumer alike, it can be difficult for merchants to decide whether to invest in the latest craze or not – especially when it comes to smaller brands for which change can constitute a significant investment.

I certainly don’t envy those tasked with distinguishing between what is a fad versus the future. But there is one trend that has caught my attention recently which feels like a major and lasting shift to the way that consumers purchase products – the rise of ‘social commerce’.

Now, don’t get me wrong, brands marketing products on social media channels is nothing new. In fact, brands have been able to advertise on Facebook since 2007 and on Instagram since 2013, with the ability to target those ads at specific audiences becoming evermore sophisticated. Yet the real change has come with social channels, Instagram in particular, allowing users to directly shop for products as part of their experience with the app – and without leaving its walls.

For over a year, brands have been able to make their posts ‘shoppable’ on Instagram, meaning that users are able to simply click products they see in merchants' social posts and find themselves on the item page, primed to purchase. But recent developments have made social commerce a whole new ball game. In March, Instagram launched a new ‘Checkout’ feature, a function that allows users to buy products directly from a brand’s shoppable post without leaving the app. And at the end of April, the platform announced that it would now be possible for the posts of influencers, rather than just brands, to link to specific products using ‘shoppable’ posts.

When you consider that one billion people use Instagram each month, 60% of which discover products on the platform, 75% of which take action based on discovering those products, and which are 70% more likely to buy via mobile, then you can see why Instagram commerce has the capability to transform a retailer’s fortunes.

That’s far too many stats for my liking – but here’s the point: Instagram is a captive audience of millions of Millennials and Gen-Zers, (around 70% of its users fall into these categories), who are heavily influenced by social media when shopping (77% say they are influenced by social media in their purchasing decisions). Both of these groups are also huge fans of digital convenience, and so the power-coupling of their favourite influencers effectively acting as salespeople, and the fact that they may not even need to depart from their Insta-scrolling to make a purchase, is always going to be a winner.

The evolution of social shopping is just another example of how brands are constantly working to meet demands for flexibility and choice from today’s consumers. Choice no longer pertains purely to what people buy, but also where they shop, how they shop, and, of course, how they pay – hence the inception of Laybuy. And it won’t stop here. We’re already seeing ‘shoppable TV’, where viewers of programmes such as Made in Chelsea are able to purchase the on screen characters’ outfits whilst watching via streaming apps. No idea is too forward thinking when it comes to capturing the imagination of shoppers.

So why not take a chance on social shopping? It’s one bandwagon jump that retailers are unlikely to regret. And whilst you’re thinking about it, look up Laybuy to give your customers double the reason to hit that checkout button.

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Alex Rohloff
Alex Rohloff