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The Challenges Social Commerce Brings to Traditional E-Commerce

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6 min read

The way we shop online is changing fast, and social commerce is at the center of it all. This isn’t just a small change; it’s a big deal that’s reshaping the whole online shopping world.

Here’s how big it’s getting: Research shows that by the end of 2023, the social commerce market will be worth $1.3 trillion. Even more impressive, this is a jump of nearly 31% from last year, when the market was at $958 billion.

So, why is this happening? Simply put, people love socializing online, and combining that with shopping makes sense in today’s digital world.

This article will detail why social commerce is giving traditional e-commerce a run for its money.

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What is Social Commerce?

Social commerce is the fusion of social media and online shopping. Instead of visiting separate online stores, you can now buy products directly from posts on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok.

Real-time interactions are what separate social commerce from traditional online shopping. Users can engage with products by liking, sharing, or commenting, and these interactions can influence others’ buying choices. Collaborating with influencers can help your products and brand gain greater visibility and trust.

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Social Commerce vs. E-Commerce

When discussing online shopping, two terms often arise: social commerce and e-commerce. While both involve buying and selling on the Internet, they have distinct characteristics. Here’s a head-to-head comparison to differentiate them more easily:

Social CommerceE-commerce
Happens on social media platforms, apps, and websites.Happens on dedicated websites or apps, like eBay and Amazon.
It’s more interactive. Users can like, comment, share, and even get recommendations from friends or influencers before purchasing.Users usually search for a product, add it to their cart, and check out.
Discovery is more organic. Shoppers might discover products while scrolling through your feed, watching a story, or through influencer promotions.Products are usually found through searches, either on the website itself or via search engines.
There’s a deeper level of engagement. Users can interact with brands, join live sessions, watch product demos, and even participate in discussions.Engagement is often limited to reading product descriptions and customer reviews.
The overall social media activity, including likes, shares, and follows, drives personalization and provides a more complete picture of shopper preferences.Using cookies, e-commerce recommendations are often based on browsing history or past purchases.

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Why Social Commerce Is Overtaking E-Commerce

Social commerce is rapidly gaining ground over traditional e-commerce, and there are clear reasons for this shift. Here are some of the reasons why social commerce is on the rise:

  • Engagement and interaction Unlike the static experience of traditional e-commerce, social commerce is dynamic. Users can engage with products through likes, comments, shares, and even live demos, making the shopping experience more interactive and personal.
  • Personalized recommendations. Social media platforms use algorithms to show users content based on their preferences and interactions. This means the products shown are more likely to align with individual tastes, increasing the chance of a sale.
  • Direct communication. Brands can directly engage with customers on social platforms, answering queries, addressing concerns, or offering real-time promotions.

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The Importance of a Complete Online Presence

For a business to succeed with social commerce, it will need more than a single Etsy or Instagram account. A complete online presence means being visible anywhere and everywhere, including having a website, a mobile app, and a solid presence on multiple social media platforms. 

A good website plays a big role in how well your business is placed online. But it’s not just about looks. If you want people to be able to find your website, it needs to be SEO-friendly. To do this, you need to make your website a reliable, trustworthy source of information.

Aside from posting content, one of the best ways to gain website authority is to establish a good backlink profile. This means ensuring that links to your website are only found on reputable, high-ranking websites. Inevitably, once your content becomes more relevant, you’ll have spammy or low-ranking sites linking to it. 

That’s why you should carry out a backlink analysis every now and then. In addition to removing spammy links, you can identify faulty ones, find proper links to focus on, and, most importantly, inspire new ideas on being more visible on search engine results.

But once you master both the technical and the social side of social commerce, you’ll fully understand its benefits, such as: 

  • Reach more potential buyers. Social commerce thrives on various platforms. By being active across multiple channels, you tap into diverse audiences, from Instagram shoppers to TikTok enthusiasts.
  • Build trust in the social sphere. Consistency across platforms builds brand credibility. When users see familiar brands while scrolling through their social feeds, they’re more inclined to make a purchase.
  • Stay top of mind with social users. Regular posts, stories, or live sessions on different platforms keep your brand and products fresh in the minds of social media users.
  • Engage diversely for better sales. Each social platform offers unique engagement tools. Polls on Instagram, shoppable pins on Pinterest, or shop-the-look posts on Facebook can engage users, boosting sales opportunities.
  • Boost SEO through social signals. A strong presence on social platforms can enhance your search engine rankings. Frequent shares, likes, and mentions can act as social signals, indicating your brand’s relevance.
  • Gather feedback for better products. Social platforms are goldmines for feedback. Comments, direct messages, or reactions can offer insights, helping refine products to suit the social commerce audience better.

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Increased Vulnerabilities with Social Commerce

Social commerce, while offering a seamless shopping experience, also brings certain risks. As businesses become more active on social media platforms, they open themselves to new vulnerabilities.

One of the main vulnerabilities is the threat of cyberattacks, mainly phishing. If you don’t take this seriously and train your social media team, you could be a victim of identity theft, have your customer data compromised, and potentially face legal consequences.

So, before you think about improving your social channels further, ensure the whole network is as resistant to social engineering as possible.

In addition to providing potential attackers with significantly more vectors, social commerce ventures are also prone to:

  • Dependence on third-party platforms. Relying heavily on platforms you don’t control can be risky. If a platform changes policies or experiences an outage, it can disrupt sales. Choose a platform that gives you control over its features.
  • Counterfeit products. Like traditional e-commerce, social commerce is not immune to counterfeit sellers. These fake sellers can damage a brand’s reputation.
  • Rapid growth, rapid threats The faster social commerce grows, the more attractive it becomes for cybercriminals. They’re always looking for new ways to exploit popular trends.

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From Transactions to Connections: The Social Commerce Takeover

The blending of social media and online shopping is changing how we buy and sell. This shift towards social commerce highlights a move from simply buying and selling goods to building genuine connections.

This new retail landscape might seem challenging, but it also offers opportunities to discover and engage with your shoppers in innovative ways, such as live sales, giveaways, and more. Remember that blending social interactions with shopping is reshaping how you and everyone else think about online purchases. It’s a more personal and interactive future for your digital selling journey.

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About the author:

Magnus Eriksen is a copywriter and eCommerce SEO specialist with a Marketing and Brand Management degree. Before he became a copywriter, he worked as a content writer for digital marketing companies like Synlighet AS and Omega Media, where he learned how to do both on-page and technical SEO.

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