E-commerce further aligns with social media

E-commerce is proving to be a valuable addition to business strategy, especially for the millennial demographic. Is your business prepared?


The rapid evolution of e-commerce is continuing, particularly in the way it aligns with an organisation’s social media strategy. Previously, these businesses were limited to directing traffic to separate platforms through posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Now, these two channels are becoming interlinked in many cases, preventing the need to redirect users around multiple sites to encourage them to place an order. With both Facebook and Twitter trialling the use of ‘buy’ buttons, organisations will need to re-think the way they use social media and the role e-commerce could play in ongoing business success.

Twitter launches ‘buy’ button

By now, most organisations well-versed in social media strategy will feel like they have a handle on the way Twitter operates. However, that could all change with the site’s latest update, one which is likely to have a significant impact on those that rely on e-commerce.

The site recently announced its partnership with a number of already established e-commerce platforms to bring a ‘buy’ button to the site, eliminating the need to redirect consumers looking to purchase a company’s goods or services.

According to a September 30 article published on Re/code, there are now millions of merchants that are able to make use of the new functionality, assuming they are partnered with the appropriate e-commerce provider.

At this stage, the functionality is limited to US-based businesses, but Twitter is currently working on international expansions, with Australian companies expected to be given access some time in 2016.

E-commerce provider Bigcommerce says the sales options will appear as calls to action in either regular tweets or those augmented with paid promotion.

Which other social media platforms provide this option?

Twitter isn’t the only social media platform offering this functionality, with its competitors also either trialling or implementing the same type of option, reducing the steps in the customer journey.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook also offers this feature to business pages in a similar fashion to twitter. Now, companies can choose to add a buy option to the calls to action present in their paid Facebook advertisements.

Again, like Twitter’s campaign, the options are still limited to US businesses as the firm investigates the future of the update. At this stage, Facebook is assuring users a safe and secure experience that promises privacy, with a statement revealing that user data isn’t shared with third parties through the process.

Virtual scrapbooking service Pinterest has also taken the plunge in this regard, debuting a purchase option alongside its usual ‘Pin it’ button. The addition is yet another example of the way seamless buying options are becoming integral to social media use for businesses.

Who does e-commerce appeal to?

The digital nature of e-commerce and its increased targeting of mobile platforms greatly influences the demographics that are responding to these initiatives.

According to a study commissioned by Facebook and carried out by Nielsen, this is largely due to the rapid changes in the way younger generations consume media. Put simply, traditional channels such as television and radio advertising, while still an important part of business strategy, aren’t as effective at reaching younger generations.

Millennials in particular are proving to be significantly more responsive to digital advertisements and online shopping options. On average, these respondents are 10 years younger than those who watch a lot of television.

In comparison to baby boomers, millennials are more than twice as likely to research products online before heading into a store or making a purchase. In many cases, these aren’t just one off purchases either, with a growing amount of millennial consumers using e-commerce platforms to purchase everyday goods such as groceries, medicine and cosmetics.

The key to these behaviours is the role smartphones play in the daily lives of millennials. According to Facebook and Nielsen’s survey, more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of people in this demographic always have their mobile phone with them.

What’s the state of the e-commerce industry?

The amount of activity in the platforms that support the e-commerce industry is encouraging further growth, with service provider Custora reporting a notable increase in its Q3 metrics.

In year-over-year results, Custora reported that total spending was up more than 11 per cent, with the number of individual transactions also following similar trends. While these statistics are significant for businesses evaluating their e-commerce strategies, the busiest season is yet to come.

Custora is forecasting even more increases in total expenditure and transactions as retailers approach Q4, a time that will see notable retail events such as Black Friday sales and the all-important holiday rush.

The firm noted that mobile use will continue to be a defining feature of the e-commerce market, with smartphones and tablets responsible for almost a third (28.7 per cent) of all transactions in Q3. Last year these devices only accounted for 23.1 per cent of all activity.

In the run up to the busy holiday period, businesses need to be aware of their options in promoting their products in an increasingly competitive marketplace, especially as more opportunities arise.