Expanding Social Commerce

Selling on social media can be an effective digital retail outlet.

Diane Falvey
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Image by Kaufdex from Pixabay
Image by Kaufdex from Pixabay

With so much shifting in 2020 as to how consumers make buying decisions, it has become essential for retailers to ensure an experience for their customers in more than just the brick-and-mortar store. While shoppers have been trending toward digital commerce for years, the coronavirus pandemic exposed just how necessary online retail has become.   

For retailers who have limited digital exposure or have lacked time and resources to go full e-commerce, social media has become an effective digital retail outlet. In a year where it can still be a challenge to get customers to come to you and larger home furnishings e-tailers take up significant digital space, social commerce lets retailers meet their customers where they are already engaged. 

Where to Sell

While there are plenty of social media platforms where you can sell products, assess the ones that will work best for your business. Consider the following before getting started:

  • What are the social platforms where you are most likely to find your target audience?  
  • What type of content do your customers like to consume? 
  • Where are your target customers more likely to interact with online ads? 

For home furnishings and lighting retail, the top platforms for reaching your customers are likely Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. There are several ways to add commerce to these platforms, and while you may want to test them before setting up shop and investing in advertising, you can also do some competitor recognizance to guide your social strategy. 

Setting Up Shop

You can certainly — and have most likely already — set up shop on one or more platforms. Facebook and Instagram provide shop options. You will need to have a Facebook store, however, to set up shop on Instagram. 

You can also run ads on these platforms that will help you reach your targeted audience. Facebook offers sophisticated targeting capabilities where you can define your customer by age, gender, location and interests. You’ll want to tailor your ads to your audience. Targeting the work-from-home crowd in home furnishings, for example, could mean offering task lighting or desks. 

I’m Not Shopping... You’re Shopping 

While it’s wise to have a “shopping hub” on social media, there are alternative ways to sell on these platforms. Pinterest offers shopping through Promoted Pins, Shop the Look Pins and Rich Pins. These options flow with the organic content of the platform and are less intrusive for users. 

For platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, this seamless style of commerce can also be attained through comment selling, which allows customers to purchase directly through comments. Retailers can encourage customers to claim items by commenting “sold” on their posts. From there, customers can cart items and easily purchase them without ever leaving their newsfeed.

Comment selling allows retailers to convert social media posts — images and videos — into shoppable content. Content from static images that showcase products to Facebook Live videos — the most popular form of comment selling — to pre-recorded and styled videos can be transformed into shopping opportunities. You can also offer shopping through Facebook premieres and watch parties. And if customers missed the live feed, you can continue selling via video replays. 

Buying through comments is relatively new, so to be successful, it helps to train your potential customers on what to expect. Educating your followers on how this works will expand your sales and make the process more successful for you and your customer.  

CommentSold suggests taking two to three weeks to incorporate comment selling into the shopping experience, allowing time to promote and prepare. Teaser posts, coupons and giveaways for those who join live are great ways to build anticipation. 

CommentSold (commentsold.com) also recommends starting with a live video to introduce comment selling. Engage your audience with conversation, share the basics of how this works and get started. After a sales post, be sure to maintain and engage with your customers and provide exemplary customer service. Be available and helpful, educate customers on how to comment shop, provide easy written instructions, post regularly, and check and respond to comments. 

While there are opportunities for unique selling opportunities on different platforms, CommentSold suggests starting with Facebook, as customers are often engaged there. And to facilitate this type of selling, there are companies that help automate and streamline the process. 

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