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Opinion

Why Aussie retailers should embrace social selling

Social selling has taken off in a big way in 2018, and it’s time for Aussie retailers to jump on the bandwagon.

With the proliferation of Facebook ads and the recent launch of Shopping on Instagram posts and stories, retailers have more ways to sell their products than ever before.

And considering Aussies spend an average of 100 minutes per day on social media, according to Hootsuite & We Are Social’s Digital in 2018 report, the opportunity to drive sales here is considerable. These platforms offer a host of benefits for retailers that are ready to embrace social selling.

Shift in consumer behaviour

What spurred this era of social selling? While technology has played a major role, shifting consumer behavior has been the key driver. There is a strong appetite for social media shopping in Australia, with 11 per cent of all smartphone users having purchased via social platforms and 13 per cent buying something they saw on social media in 2017, according Paypal’s mCommerce Index.

Aussies are increasingly embracing social platforms as a source of brand discovery, and are gaining more choice in how, and where, they shop for new products. One example of this is engagement with ads on social media.

With over 1 billion active users every month, Facebook is by far the largest social network in the world. Even more telling, Facebook’s users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on the platform, according to Facebook’s quarterly report May 2016.

The size of the network, combined with high levels of user engagement, have made Facebook Ads an effective way of advertising products and raising brand awareness. While Facebook continues to be a popular platform for advertising and engaging customers, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) is starting to catch up as a destination for businesses.

As the third most active social media platform in Australia, Instagram has long been a platform designed around visual, lifestyle inspiration, with consumers often relying on it as a source for the latest outfits to wear, food to eat and places to travel.

The platform has introduced a number of business-friendly features over the last few years, including business pages, Instagram ads and, most recently, Shopping on Instagram. These features give brands the opportunity to turn aspirational followers into customers, by making the path to purchase quick and seamless, and providing the option to turn aspiration into reality.

Shopping on Instagram has enabled brands to go beyond likes and use the platform to engage with customers in a more meaningful way.

Why is this important? Research from Statista shows that 1 in 3 Aussies use the platform, 89 per cent of whom are aged 25-54. As such, this network provides a huge opportunity for small- and medium-sized businesses to grow their customer base, create a more authentic connection with both customers and fans, and ultimately boost sales numbers.

If this isn’t proof enough that social selling is taking off, Instagram is reportedly testing out ways to enable customers to pay directly within the app. Watch this space.

How retailers can benefit

Social selling on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest provides retailers with the opportunity to market products and services to potential customers, and do so in a way that feels authentic to the experience those customers are already having on those platforms. Not to mention, it makes online shopping faster and more convenient than ever before.

BigCommerce’s partnership with Instagram and the launch of Shopping on Instagram in March has provided Australians with the opportunity to not only engage with the brands they love and purchase the products they love, but do so seamlessly.

Beyond spelling the death of the ubiquitous link in bio, this integration means consumers can actually buy the items they see on their feed, rather than just aspiring to own them.

To add to the appeal, merchants – and in turn, their customers – can realise all the benefits of social selling integrations without any tech debt or risk. Take Incy Interiors as an example of a local success story.

After starting her online business in 2007, founder Kristy Withers now sells her wares to her more than 53,500 followers on Instagram. Parents-to-be who used to ogle over beautiful rose gold cots (used by the likes of Serena Williams and featured on The Block) can now purchase goods directly from the Incy Interiors’ Instagram page.

Without investing additional resources, Shopping on Instagram had a huge impact on Kristy’s business, increasing sales by 8 per cent.

Social selling is here to stay, and it brings with it a plethora of new and exciting opportunities for retailers. If merchants don’t embrace social selling, they risk getting left behind, missing out on opportunities for both sales and deeper customer connections, and engaging with existing customers in a tailored, meaningful way.

Jordan Sim is group product manager at BigCommerce, focused on enabling integrations with partner products to equip merchants with the tools and services they need to operate their entire business within the BigCommerce ecosystem. 

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