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Social Commerce Is the Future of Marketing. Are You Ready? Here's how to take advantage of the platform that offers customers easy access to impulse buys and hard-to-locate items.

By Chris Davenport Edited by Amanda Breen

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social commerce sells products directly through social-media networks. It differs from social-media marketing because you're not redirecting users to an online store but offering them the ability to checkout directly within the network they are using at that moment.

Social-media sales are here to stay. During 2020, mostly induced by the pandemic sweeping the world, U.S. sales of goods and services trended upward by 38.9%. In 2021, the selling and buying online through social media is trending towards a 35.8% rise or $36.62 billion. While this is a significant trend in online social-media purchasing, it is a drop in the bucket compared to China's overall online sales of $351.65 billion.

Facebook alone has sold about 56 million through its online social-media direct check-out sales. Close behind are Twitter and Pinterest. They offer a direct checkout from within their sites to consumers who then do not have to traverse a complex series of steps to get to a site to purchase an item. Essentially, social-media buying takes out time-consuming extra steps and leads the buyer directly to the site. It's a one-click solution, and that enthralls many buyers.

Related: How Social Commerce Is Taking Ecommerce to Bharat

Easy access to impulse buys and hard-to-locate items

As one might imagine, it also creates a boom in impulse buying. The paradigm is usually just three steps: See the ad on Facebook, Twitter or other social-media platforms; click on the button; and buy. Without a lot of fuss, you too can end up with a full-body massage pillow.

Additionally, social-media commerce offers buyers of larger or hard-to-locate items a reliable method of obtaining what they need when they need it. For example, take used or aftermarket auto-parts sales. This market will only grow as new cars become cost-prohibitive and people keep and care for their older vehicles much more than in prior years. The trick is to use social-media commerce sites to their best advantage by funneling all used auto parts through a stationary site, which eliminates the search process for finding a used-parts site and offers a range of auto parts to suit the buyer's particular needs. This can provide the "frictionless" shopping experience that many consumers are seeking.

Related: Rise of Social-Commerce Startups During Pandemic

How can a platform attract customers?

In keeping with the previous example, to drive customers to a used auto-parts site, the platforms' advertising needs to be visually interesting, with just enough information to pique the buyer's interest. Images of cars, parts and other auto-related items draw attention to the platform. Instagram reports that 60% of its users peruse any given site and are inspired to purchase an item immediately. Renewing and updating the images with links to the platform wherein buyers can acquire their parts is key to utilizing social commerce. In addition, personalizing the sites will draw more buyers into the Facebook-Instagram modality.

Also, when searching for the desired item, buyers are more apt to use Google the first time they search. Therefore, positioning a website or shopping platform on this search engine is valuable to the entire social-commerce agenda.

However, since you do not want them to stray from your platform and want shoppers to return for future purchases, there must be conviviality on the site. So, besides promoting the available items and sharing information, humorous memes or cartoons and a place for comments and questions, it should provide the users with a sense of socialization. This will draw users back to your site in addition to wherever you link it to Twitter, Facebook or other social-media platforms.

Essentially, to be a viable member of the social-commerce world, you have to create and maintain a social-media presence, even on your own site, so that users will come back again to obtain the item and maybe even the advice they need. Social commerce is the future of marketing, and getting in at the beginning will create a presence for selling anything buyers need.

Related: How Startups Can Leverage Social Commerce

Chris Davenport

Founder of AutoParts4Less.com

Chris Davenport is the CEO of AutoParts4Less.com, a subsidiary of the 4Less Group, the world's first automotive parts multi-vendor marketplace. He began his career in the ecommerce world by launching LiftKits4Less.com, the largest online seller of suspension lift systems for trucks, SUVs and jeeps.

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