Retail

Pandemic Accelerates Social Commerce; Gives Brands New Selling Option

social commerce smartphone

The pandemic has given a boost to social commerce. Many social channels like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook have seen more commerce activity as the digital shift continues to gain momentum.

For example, Levi’s has gone public with its participation in TikTok’s “Shop Now” program, which gives consumers the option to purchase items on TikTok videos. Through this year’s Levi’s Haus Miami activation, the brand partnered with TikTok influencers Callen SchaubCosette RinabGabby Morrison and Everett Williams to create customized denim using Future Finish 3-D denim customization technology. Consumers were able to view these Future Finish videos and then click to buy the same design on levi.com directly from influencers’ TikTok posts, which ended April 19. Watch time for the videos averaged twice as long as platform average on TikTok.

Since launch, product views to Levi.com’s “Future Finish” pages have more than doubled for every product included in its TikTok campaign.

“TikTok was the perfect platform for us to expand our efforts in social commerce. Over the last decade, we’ve been on a journey to not only grow our digital footprint, but also help our fans buy our products at the point of inspiration, when they see something they love,” said Brady Stewart, Levi’s managing director, U.S. direct to consumer. “As consumer behavior shifts over the coming months and people explore different online channels for shopping and engaging with brands, we are here to connect with consumers, wherever they are.”

Stewart admitted that the social channels are still nascent compared to more traditional eCommerce channels such as Levi’s own website or other online stores. However it is a major factor in its overall eCommerce business which is now more than 15 percent of its total revenue, which has doubled from three years ago.

The launch with TikTok builds on social commerce efforts Levi’s has executed with SnapInstagram and Pinterest. The last time TikTok reported audience numbers, in November 2018, it reported 680 million monthly active users. Current estimates put it as high as 800 million. Of those active monthly users, nearly 60 percent fall between the ages of 16 to 24.

Brand consultant Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers, says any brand looking to capitalize on social commerce needs to understand their audience and the platform on which it is most engaged. For example, fashion brands have found success on Instagram and its visual strength. Interior design brands have found the most engagement on Pinterest.

“Social media isn’t a game of one size fits all and nor is social commerce,” he says. “Once brands have captured the attention of their customer on social media, they need to make sure their offer is enticing and to make sure it’s an offer that the customer can only find on the platform. Only by customizing campaigns for each platform and each persona will brands see the best results with social commerce.”

The pandemic has also given rise to social commerce startups. According to Vogue Business, Elysa Kahn, a former L’Oréal brand manager, has launched a new social platform called Squadded Shopping Party that encourages users to shop online with people in their network.

“People tend to have a higher probability to buy when with another person or a group [because] a friend affirms decisions that one might not make when shopping alone, so the shopper has a reduced risk perception of the purchase which makes the activity more careless,” says Max H. Brüggemann, director of customer engagement at Capgemini Invent.

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