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Holiday Shopping Goes Social

Unleash the power of social commerce, where convenient shop-from-home experiences and doorstep deliveries converge for a seamless online retail journey.

Already popular throughout Asia, the age of shopping via social channels has arrived in North America— and smart brands are taking advantage of it for the busy holiday season.

The days of the Sears Catalog, that century-long staple of the holiday season, are long gone.

The catalog ended in 1993, but its blueprint lives on. Convenient shop-from-home experiences with goods delivered right to your door is the heart of ecommerce, and nowhere is that more powerfully experienced than with social commerce.

According to McKinsey, global sales from social media channels hit $37 billion in 2021, and by 2025 they’re predicted to reach $80 billion and account for roughly 5% of all e-commerce sales in the US.

Some might argue that 5% is a relatively small portion of the market, but consider the trend in social commerce globally: while North America has been slower to adopt social commerce, according to a Statista report over 80% of the online population in Thailand, India, and China are social buyers. Social commerce is on the rise and brands need to consider it as part of their omnichannel strategy.

Growth in social commerce was spurred, like many recent changes in ecommerce, by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019 there were 60 million social buyers in the US; by 2022 that number had surged to 97 million. Younger generations, in particular, are embracing the format with TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat leading the pack as important channels for influencing and capturing purchases.

A successful social commerce experience won’t happen by accident, however. Like any foray into a new channel, it requires deft planning on both the technical and operational fronts. Brands and retailers looking to capture the growing and lucrative social shopping audience will need to invest in their omnichannel capabilities.

Anyone can set up social selling, but managing it effectively to ensure you can meet customer demand, streamline fulfillment, and maintain brand equity throughout the shopping experience to build a loyal customer base depends on a seamlessly integrated tech stack with the flexibility to connect data across touchpoints. Inconsistent pricing, poor inventory awareness, and negative customer experiences will erode consumer confidence, so implementing this new sales channel properly is paramount.

Successful brands are running social channels as an extension of their existing e-commerce and CX systems. Many of the leading commerce vendors now offer paths to reaching social buyers. Brands who see social as just one of many channels they have (alongside shoppable TV, the metaverse, and marketplaces) to meet consumers are going a step further to the choice of composable commerce.

A composable commerce stack based on MACH technology principles allows businesses to bring in new sales channels without deploying a separate set of systems. It ensures that retailers and brands are selling at the right price, with current inventory no matter what channel customers are using. A composable architecture enables brands to extend to new channels, explore new business models, and experiment with new opportunities.

By leveraging a suite of microservices purpose-built for easy integration, brands get best-of-breed services without locking into a single vendor. This has a few advantages.

First, it means a lighter lift to integrate a new channel — like social commerce — since it’s not a locked-in ecosystem. Monoliths tend to be slow to adapt and adopt, meaning new opportunities don’t integrate easily and can require a significant development effort to build out custom integrations for brands to even be able to trial and new opportunity. Specialized vendors, like MACH Alliance member StoryStream, offer a dedicated solution that keeps pace with the industry, so businesses can harness new technologies (like AI) as they become available in the market.

A composable architecture also means that a new channel isn’t siloed off in a corner. Instead, it can be seamlessly woven into the fabric of the business with data connected across and through channels and technologies. Order fulfillment, inventory management, pricing and product catalog consistency— each of these systems need to be sharing data in order to ensure you’re delivering a seamless brand experience in a new channel, and composable breaks down the data silos that have become an unfortunate staple of traditional ecommerce experiences.

With the holidays approaching, you can expect to see a flurry of activity on social channels. Leading brands understand the twin magic of a fully-branded shopping experience that has customer convenience and ease as its core. And by activating a true omnichannel approach to engaging their customers, they’ll find big growth this holiday season.

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Jason Cottrell, CEO & Founder of Orium

Jason Cottrell is CEO & Founder of Orium, North America’s leading composable commerce consultancy and system integrator. An avid futurist, he focuses on how experiences will evolve, brands will be redefined, and work will be conducted when everything around us is connected. Jason holds his HBA from Ivey Business School at Western University, and is an active member of both the Forbes Tech Council and the Fast Company Executive Board.

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