How Digital Natives Are Powering Social Commerce — And What That Means For Your Business

Derick Jaros headshot

By Derick Jaros

Jun 30, 2023

6 min

Think about how people shopped and consumed information just a couple of decades ago. Brick-and-mortar establishments, print, and television were the norm. Fast forward to today, and commerce is moving into a new era with a different kind of buyer. Digital natives — those who grew up influenced by modern technologies — are gaining purchasing power. And unlike consumers familiar with a more traditional method of shopping, these skilled tech users are turning to a variety of digital channels to buy.

A social media study found that 77% of users said social platforms inspired them to get more information about a brand or product. This was often a result of a company's website not having all of the details and answers that consumers were looking for, leading them to crowdsource better information for themselves. Yet up until recently, driving consumers to your website to purchase was the goal. In the past, channels have been more siloed. But omnichannel marketing and social media's powerful influence on buying have changed the game.

Retail leaders must invest in technologies that allow them to create digital experiences on the channels their customers prefer, making it feel seamless on their end. This includes implementing ways to effortlessly guide consumers toward a purchase on their site or the ability to purchase directly on a social platform. It's also about developing customer loyalty from the moment of awareness. These social and conversational channels are a powerful way to develop, build, and strengthen customer relationships and create brand advocates. By providing a consistent experience on consumers' preferred channels, brands are ensuring a simple purchasing process across all channels, increasing the likelihood of repeat consumers.

The next generation of shoppers

So, what exactly is social and conversational commerce? Deloitte describes social commerce as "a seamless integrated shopping and social experience on an app or site." This means being able to shop while spending time on social media and online gaming platforms, like WhatNot and Fortnite, respectively. (Let's be honest: who isn't influenced when scrolling Instagram or TikTok? It's valuable to provide the immediate gratification by letting users purchase their must-have items seamlessly.)

Several types of commerce interact within the same ecosystem, including conversational commerce, which features messaging and voice support. A conversational commerce experience might include a chatbot that helps consumers choose the right product for their needs.

Accelerating purchase speed with social and conversational commerce

Consumers spent $992 billion in 2020 on social media commerce, and that number is expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2026. Of those buying through platforms like Instagram and Facebook, 55% were between 18-24. Commerce leaders looking to provide a more convenient shopping experience must keep their audience in mind, adapting their strategies to meet the demographics and preferences of their best customers. Each technology and trend they implement should streamline the path to purchase on whatever channels consumers are shopping.. And do it in a way that speaks to the digital natives who are entering the market.

Creating a seamless social commerce experience

Brands that haven't invested in the right tools often offer a disjointed social commerce experience. They rely on old methods where consumers see and click on an ad. Then they're taken to a site. They look for reviews in multiple channels — and if by chance they add the item to their cart — they may experience a drawn-out checkout. None of this is dynamic, user-friendly, or memorable. And it often leads to cart abandonment.

Social commerce is an ecosystem — one where brands, consumers, creators, brand advocates, and influencers are all connected. Retailers who view social commerce as an opportunity to convert shoppers at their highest moment of intent will repeat the benefits in their bottom line. Since 64% of digital buyers discover brands and/or products via social media, and 11% buy what they see right at that moment, social commerce allows brands to provide instant gratification to their customers, streamlining the path to purchase.

Some of the first steps you can take to boost your social commerce strategy are:

  • Increase tech integrations: A lot of your digital capabilities depend on your integrations. Your tech needs to work together to create a seamless experience. Today's platforms can connect, interact, and enhance each other. Whether you're embedding social media onto your website or importing products into your social channels — increased integrations drive a better, more engaging journey.

  • Add a catalog and enable in-app transactions: The clunky checkout process has been the source of many abandoned carts. Today's buyers want speed and convenience. And by enabling social media in-app transactions, you're providing a frictionless checkout. A good way to boost your social commerce is using something like Instagram or Facebook's catalog. Add all the products you want to promote or sell. Use the catalog to store product info, prices, descriptions, inventory, and more.

  • Add shopping tags with product information: According to Instagram, nearly half of people say they use Instagram to shop weekly. Users can select tags that have been added to posts to find out more about products and make it easier to navigate to your website and buy the products they see in their feeds. You can tag up to five items in an image or in-feed video post or up to 20 when using the carousel feature. You can also expand the number of products you tag by adding them to Reels, Stories, Captions, Bios, and Live Video — and using each feature creatively and engagingly.

Leveraging conversational commerce

Conversational commerce is another part of social commerce. It's leveraging conversational interactions between a brand and the consumer using chat, chatbots, and SMS. The more personalized the conversation, the better.

When consumers know they can enjoy relevant and personalized conversations on your company's dedicated website, they'll begin to choose that over social media, bringing your audience back to your home turf. And that's where an AI-powered chatbot makes all the difference.

Any AI conversations should use technology like natural language processing. Not only does this add intuitive abilities to meet customer expectations, but it also allows your chatbot to answer their questions in a relevant and intelligent way.

Convert by starting the right conversations on the right channels

To compete in the digital age, brands need to embrace new channels — like social commerce — to meet a new generation of shoppers on their preferred channels. As the purchasing power of digital natives grows, brands will start to see consumers interact more on third-party sites, creating an opportunity for them to invest in the tools they need to convert shoppers on whatever channel they are on. Social commerce provides the convenience consumers crave and those retailers who take advantage will see the benefits reflected in their bottom line.

Start building your social commerce strategy by creating an intuitive search and discovery experience using Yext's AI-powered Commerce solution and learning how you can modernize your eCommerce platform.

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