Social Media Profiles are the new Store Fronts

A Digital Marketers Perspective

In a post pandemic landscape, we see people flocking to digital retail establishments more than ever. It simply makes sense to be where your audience spends the most time. Instagram has over 121 million monthly users. So, with targeted ads and in app purchasing, social media has become a sophisticated shopping experience.

We can let the figures speak for themselves. Internet sales, as a percentage of total UK sales, went from 19.1% in February 2020 to 36.2% in 9 months. With 23% of all UK shoppers using social media regularly to discover and buy new products, it truly seems to be the new norm.

Is this the new high street?

2021 has brought with it the closing of many loved and even famous high street stores. The closure of Debenhams, Topshop being bought by ASOS (the original online fashion retailer) could signal the end of the classic business model for the retail industry.

What effect will this have on consumers?

Social platforms have succeeded at meeting customer expectations. Their convenience, ease of use and personalisation has redefined the shopping experience.

Though different categories differ in appeal. Research shows fashion, beauty, wellbeing, and grocery items are the most purchased categories on social media. More luxurious or expensive items are much less popular than these more affordable ones.

Does this show a lack of trust in this new shopping experience? Do people still not want to spend too much money on social media sites or is it just that affordable items tend to be purchased more on average.

A Time of Industry Innovation 

The largest and most developed social commerce giant is of course Facebook. The Facebook and Instagram Shops contain virtual store fronts, catalogues of products and easy promotion.

TikTok, though relatively new to the scene, has hundreds of millions of users. It often ranks as the least trustworthy in consumers eyes but most innovative. Like Instagram, retailers can run in-feed shoppable videos with age, gender, behaviour, and content targeting available. The #Smallbusiness tag has been used upwards of 3 billion times.

Snapchat uses Shopify. These integrated dynamic product ads are shoppable and some use augmented reality. Brands are again able to set up virtual stores directly onto the platform.

Predictions for 2022 shows nothing but growth in the industry.  With the biggest positive impact likely to be on Instagram and TikTok. These video-based shopping experiences and influencer-led campaigns continue to engage and resonate with consumers.

UK digital advertising spend is set to hit a record total of £27.7 billion by the end of 2021 showing that this truly is a rocketing industry.

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