Australia’s ecommerce market has seen substantial growth over the last couple of years, with the market projected to reach over $91 billion in  2025 (US$70bn). Simultaneously, customer shopping habits have also evolved as the purchase path shifted from window shopping to scrolling on social media. Paypal Australia found that social commerce spending continues to rise, with Australians spending an average of $35 in 2021 (up 40% YoY from 2020, and up 700% from 2019).

Social media marketing remains a key way for retailers to engage with audiences. However, social commerce has made it easier for retailers and merchants to reach shoppers where they are and create engaging shopping journeys. According to a  recent Accenture report, 42% of respondents said they feel connected through virtual experiences. And rightfully so, being  social commerce seamlessly blends social experiences and ecommerce transactions through a single path to purchase, all enabled by a single platform.

If retailers and merchants want to stay ahead, here are some important elements they will need to understand to embrace social commerce as part of their omnichannel ecommerce strategy.

Go beyond simple social amplification

Although it falls under the same umbrella of reaching customers digitally, it’s important to note that social commerce is a different concept to social media marketing or ecommerce.

Social commerce is a segment of ecommerce in which merchants sell products directly through social media platforms, allowing potential customers to interact with brands, browse goods and make purchases.

Unlike social media marketing, social commerce gives customers the option to checkout directly from social platforms. Or, in some cases, the social platform may contain links that lead directly to the retailer’s product page where the customer can also complete their purchase.

While Instagram and Facebook lead the way in social commerce functionalities, other social media sites such as Pinterest, TikTok and even Snapchat are also expanding their offerings. Since every platform serves a unique purpose and attracts a niche audience, each one offers comparative strengths that shape its approach to social commerce.

Strengthen social media presence with social commerce

The rise of social commerce represents a shift in power from the brands to the people. Particularly when we’ve had a huge lifestyle transformation from the pandemic. The immediacy and convenience of social commerce has been widely embraced, with Aussies spending roughly one hour and forty six minutes of their time online using social media, according to We Are Social. Additionally, more than 1 in 3 users turned to social media to gather information about brands they were considering.

Omnichannel commerce is a strategy that provides a seamless shopping experience from the first touchpoint to the last, regardless of the channel your customer is using. A genuine omnichannel approach must deliver a consistent brand experience everywhere you sell to meet your customers where they are and build relationships that transcend channels. It should include an emphasis on optimizing your business model through channel diversification and comprehensive integration of your data and systems.

Brands like activewear maker The UPSIDE invest in Facebook and Instagram shopping as not only part of their marketing mix, but to create ways for shoppers to purchase their products directly from the social media app. Features such as the buy button and in-app checkout remove unnecessary steps in the buying process and makes it easy for customers to discover their brand without disrupting their scroll time.

Bring the store to the customer

With a demand for personalised experiences supported by digital/physical integration, retailers are presented with a golden opportunity to boost engagement strategies. Social platforms have become fundamental for businesses to develop connections with consumers and it has become a vital tool for boosting consumer confidence.

Whether it’s looking for the latest tech gadget, home improvement ideas or new season’s clothing, consumers are after visual validation and inspiration to help them make a purchasing decision. Interactive experiences like shoppable live streams on platforms such as Instagram can create more engaging shopper journeys from the initial interest through cart checkout. In fact, McKinsey Digital reported that Chinese retail giant TaoBao generated a whopping $7.5 billion USD in total transaction value in the first 30 minutes of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day presales campaign on Taobao Live.

Consumers now have an abundance of purchasing options thanks to companies leveraging social channels, and creating an omnichannel strategy built from the ground up with social commerce top of mind will ensure their buying experience is consistent. Providing shoppers a seamless checkout journey without leaving the social channel where they started their initial search not only creates a frictionless experience, but also means businesses have the potential to grab more market share that traditional brands cannot reach.

Shannon Ingrey is vice president and general manager for Asia Pacific at BigCommerce.