By Zarnaz Arlia, Chief Marketing Officer at Emplifi
When it comes to prominent sales campaigns around the globe, White Friday and Cyber Monday have always been significant for retailers and are often large contributors to annual sales results. While shoppers have always flocked to physical stores to make the most from these sale periods, purchases through online retailer websites and social media platforms have seen an unprecedented rise.
The ICSC report in the US found that Cyber Monday will see 81% of those shopping that day making their purchases online, and the UAE is no exception to the major increase in e-commerce, having witnessed a significant surge in online shopping expedited further by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the UAE’s e-commerce retail market hit a record $3.9 billion, growing 53% annually while e-commerce licenses issued by the emirate jumped to 63% in the first half of 2021.
Scroll and shop
Hand-in-hand with e-commerce is social commerce, and according to a Mastercard study in the UAE, 72% of respondents surveyed discovered new brands through Facebook and 56% on Instagram. These platforms are known to play a pivotal role as shoppers look for product recommendations and reviews to help inform their decision-making.
Forrester’s industry report, commissioned by Emplifi, also reiterates that social commerce has become a strategic imperative for brands seeking to expand revenue and capture new audiences as competition for next-gen consumers grows at a staggering rate across the retail and direct-to-consumer markets. More than 80% of the social commerce leaders surveyed confirmed they are investing in two or more social shops, with more than a third currently using four or more social shop platforms.
Brands must optimize selling products on shops across different social media networks, as well as leverage business messaging apps to help shoppers drive conversion. The ability to orchestrate, synchronize, and then sell across shops and messaging apps will give brands the broadest reach – and allow consumers to engage with them through whatever touchpoint they prefer.
The act of social care
Long gone are the days where asking a question or filing a complaint required a lengthy phone call. Today's customer is digital-first – they engage with brands across a multitude of channels regardless of where they are in their journey. Customers can tweet the company, follow them on Facebook, or direct message via Instagram to receive social customer care, which is the act of providing customer support through social media.
Many companies use social media to augment their call-based customer support activities by addressing complaints, answering questions, providing guidance, and even issuing refunds via social channels.
Customers not only expect brands to offer social customer support through social channels, but they also expect quick replies. According to Facebook for Business, 76% of people who message a business do so for customer service or support. More than 150 million people message businesses through Instagram Direct every month. That’s because 64$ of people would rather message than call a business. Social media is the preferred customer support channel for those under 25, with 32.3% of them saying it’s their top choice.
Live-streaming video has been one of the most engaging and organic marketing tools for brands to date. The success of live video lies in its authenticity. By avoiding the overly produced look and feel of classic marketing videos, live-stream shopping enables brands to deliver a more personal experience for those tuning in from their phone or tablet. Real-time interactivity replicates the urgency of a real marketplace, prompting immediate action and enhanced community participation.
More brands are leveraging live-stream shopping to listen and engage with their customers. Live-stream shopping uses live video to share products, answer questions, and close sales with customers who are joining remotely to watch, chat, and buy. Live-stream shopping allows almost anyone (celebrities, influencers, or your local store owner) to quickly create their own shopping television channel that’s also a social network and e-commerce platform—at a fraction of the cost.
The road ahead
It’s no question that the social shift is permanent. Therefore, it will no longer be enough to have an appealing e-commerce platform or to dabble in social commerce. The younger demographics and more tech-savvy consumers of today want brands to connect with them in new and exciting ways that make the customer journey easier and more enjoyable at every step along the journey. Today, the brands that are succeeding are the ones that understand that engaging in two-way communication between brand and customer is the right way to drive customers to check out.