Why the Customer Experience is Crucial to Social Commerce Success
Amidst skyrocketing digital advertising costs and uncertain macroeconomic conditions, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that once relied primarily on social advertising to drive customer acquisition are now seeking new ways to reach consumers.
Companies like cosmetics maker Jones Road Beauty are shifting ad spend from early DTC mainstays Facebook and Instagram to platforms like TikTok that drive higher engagement, per a recent Wall Street Journal report.
At the same time, platforms are evolving their own offerings, activating shoppable formats and functionalities designed to increase engagement and drive direct purchases.
Enter social commerce, an industry expected to top $1.2 trillion in spend by 2025 that will increasingly become integral to omnichannel strategies as brands seek inventive ways to connect with customers wherever they're shopping.
There’s a lot more to social commerce than simply providing the ability to complete transactions within a social platform, however. Successful brands will have an end-to-end strategy in place, considering the customer experience at every touchpoint, from content development and targeting all the way through to the moment the product arrives at a customer’s front door.
TikTok Made Me Buy it ... When Will it Arrive?
Imagine: You’re scrolling through TikTok, enjoying content that’s been algorithmically tailored just for you. Mid-swipe, a green beverage swirling through a blender captures your attention — it’s the powdered health supplement you’ve been meaning to try, mixed into a smoothie alongside the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. With two quick taps, the item is added to your cart and payment is made.
Within moments of exposure to the product, your purchase is complete and on its way to your front door. Such is the power of social content in driving commerce across platforms.
Think now about what might happen if the supplement you ordered doesn’t arrive as promised. It’s been a week since you made the purchase, when will it show up? What if it arrives damaged or the wrong item is sent? If such an instance were to occur, would you buy a product from the brand, or through the platform, again?
Customer retention is a critical key performance indicator for many merchants, especially given the sky-high cost of acquisition. A poor experience obliterates the trust and goodwill social commerce generates between brands and their shoppers.
When it comes to online purchases broadly, the customer doesn’t truly experience the product until it's delivered and unboxed, and 85 percent of consumers report that they will not shop with a retailer again after having a poor delivery experience.
Delays or missteps in the fulfillment process can make or break a brand’s social commerce strategy, and its opportunity to earn a customer’s loyalty.
Crossing the Physical–Digital Chasm
Unless sellers are able to ensure a reliably seamless customer experience — i.e., consistently quick, efficient product fulfillment and delivery — they’ll never fully realize the benefits of social commerce. Responsibility lies with both social platforms and brands to make this realization a reality.
Innovative, forward-thinking social platforms understand that they need to establish partnerships and integrate technologies that enable brands to engage in social commerce. Livestreams and in-app links aren’t enough. Platforms must make sure an established infrastructure is in place to support spikes in demand and aid merchants in activating the logistical complexities of selling through social channels.
Any merchant’s worst nightmare would involve generating an incredible amount of interest on a social channel, only to find themselves out of stock or otherwise unable to meet demand. Brands therefore must shore up their fulfillment capabilities, ensuring proper inventory availability and alignment that enables prompt, reliable delivery at scale. This necessitates multiple optimized, distributed fulfillment locations, as well as software that allows for real-time activation of inventory, order and fulfillment insights.
The right fulfillment partner will blend the digital and physical aspects of commerce, providing the technology, network and expertise necessary to power the prompt deliveries customers expect.
Realizing Social Commerce Success
As social advertising evolves into social commerce, the brand–consumer relationship is also changing.
Shoppers now capable of making direct, immediate transactions at the moment of product exposure are placing their trust in the brands they follow on social platforms, counting on them to deliver the items they’ve purchased in a timely, efficient manner. Brands must fulfill their end of the bargain, consistently providing a reliable, efficient product delivery experience that builds brand loyalty by reinforcing that trust.
Once established, relationships built as a result of social commerce will reward brands and consumers alike, delivering ideal shopping experiences that encourage repeat purchases driven by unwavering loyalty and support.
Ben Eachus is co-founder and CEO of Flowspace, the software powering e-commerce fulfillment for brands.
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Ben Eachus is co-founder and CEO of Flowspace, the software powering ecommerce fulfillment for brands. Ben was an early employee at The Honest Company, where he led supply chain operations and scaled the company’s distribution and fulfillment network during a period of rapid growth before its IPO. He previously managed fulfillment operations at McMaster Carr, a leading industrial supply distributor specializing in same-day delivery.
Ben earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his MBA from UCLA Anderson. Ben is a native of New Jersey and currently lives in Southern California with his family.