It used to be simple: an online shop was an online shop and social media was primarily used for private purposes. Today, this distinction no longer exists, as social media and online shopping are increasingly merging into what e-commerce professionals call “social shopping”. According to a recent whitepaper by YouGov, the trend has what it takes to become the “new normal”. (Online) printers should also take note of this.
Social shopping is when the impulse for a product purchase comes from social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and others. This can be the recommendation of an influencer, for example, but it doesn’t have to be. Because the platforms themselves now provide corporate clients with a range of tools with which they can prominently display their products and services, create shopping catalogues and integrate purchase incentives and call-to-actions. And the users? They are increasingly open to such offers and are using them more and more.
One thing is certain: The Corona pandemic and the lockdowns that accompanied it have given online retail an upswing, and not only last year, but also in 2021. Even in the traditionally weaker third quarter of the year, e-commerce sales were once again significantly higher than the previous year’s figures at +14.8 %, as the German E-Commerce and Mail Oder Sales Association (bevh) announced in mid-October. Admittedly, this development is not new; sales had already risen before Corona, since 2017 even continuously and often in double digits, to be precise. But the pandemic has provided an additional acceleration.
Online shopping has become a routine for most people. And with it, the subcategory of social shopping. As a recently published survey by YouGov shows, one in five has already bought a product via social media at least once in 2021 or can imagine doing so. That is two percent more than a year ago. Doesn’t sound like much – but if you look at the breakdown by age group, you can draw a conclusion about the potential of social shopping. For it is not only the youngest members of Generation Z (18 to 24 years) who buy products via social media (32 %), but also Millennials up to 39 years (30 %). In Generation X (42 to 56 years), 18 % can still be described as “social shoppers”.
And the platform itself also matters: Facebook (43 % of respondents) and Instagram (35 %) are by far the most successful when it comes to encouraging users to shop. Pinterest (10 %) and Twitter (8 %) follow at a considerable distance. It is therefore not irrelevant on which platform a company sets its purchase incentives.
YouGov concludes that social shopping is on its way to becoming the “new normal”. This means that shoppers increasingly don’t care which channel they use to access an online shop, because social media is as much a part of it for them as online shopping in general or shopping with friends.
And why is this development also interesting for (online) printers? Quite simply because the younger generations, for whom social shopping is already normal today, are the customers, marketeers and decision-makers of tomorrow. If you want to move into their consciousness and inspire them for your own products or services, you as a provider must also be active where generations Z, X or the millennials spend their time.
And another aspect should not be lost sight of: According to YouGov, almost a third of “social shoppers” (29 %) have also shared their purchased products via the platforms. This is hardly surprising, after all, Facebook, Instagram and the like thrive on liking, sharing and recommending. For suppliers, these are further instruments for advertising on their own behalf: recommendation and guerrilla marketing.
Bernd Zipper has already spoken about the fact that social selling and social shopping are gaining momentum at the Online Print Symposium 2018 and 2019. However, it is still the new entrants who benefit from the new possibilities and sell print products in this way – at a very high price. So it is time that the established companies in the printing industry also become active and get involved in social selling/social shopping.
Print shops that have their own shop have at least already taken the first step. But what good is an online shop if (potential) customers don’t know about it? No question: SEO, SEA and banner advertising on complementary websites are important tools to advertise and make one’s offer visible on the World Wide Web. But social media platforms have also long been part of the equation – and the potential they offer should not be underestimated. In conversation with Bernd Zipper, Maria Seywald from Krones AG had already given important tips on the subject of social media in the past that still apply today:
- Concentrate on one or a few channels and use them properly and with high quality. Deserted company profiles are worse than none.
- Keep approval loops small: Content must be created quickly, messages and comments must be answered promptly – without long coordination processes.
- Don’t underestimate the power of images. All social media channels function very visually, so a post or an advertisement often stands or falls with the quality of the images.
Printers should not leave the field to the aforementioned lateral entrants. And why not? Because social selling and social shopping make Facebook, Instagram and co. ideal platforms for selling mass customization print.