Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift online, so too has social commerce developed at a faster pace. Snapchat, Facebook and TikTok see consumers shift towards social commerce during COVID-19.
Snapchat believes that people want to shop wherever they are spending their time. That could be in a physical high street when their stores are open. However, people are spending a large amount of time on their phones, using platforms such as Snapchat. The social media platform thinks that their role plays a critical part in that for consumers, to help them discover product for the first time. Snapchat’s response to the shift to social has been to build the services that enable people to buy directly on its platform, or to go and visit a store.
Like Snapchat, Facebook too has seen more people come to browse and buy on its website during the pandemic. This has been a big focus for Facebook over the history of the platforms, but especially over the last year and a half. This is because people have all been in their homes and not out in the physical world quite as much. That's been through huge investment in things such as shops on Facebook, and Instagram. However, it is also things such as driving traffic to retailers, websites, or stores. It really is about that commerce enablement so that Facebook can help their partners sell all the things that they are looking to sell.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to hundreds of millions of people coming online and making purchases for the first time. In addition, a lot of people seem to prefer this shift to online.
The shift to social looks likely to be a permanent one. It was born out of necessity to begin with, because the shops were closed. However, that necessity has certainly led to behaviours that could be long term and may not slow down any time soon. In the same way, shoppers are now using solutions that enable them to try things on from their phones. Fashion and beauty brands are now using augmented reality to enable shoppers to try items via Snapchat, for example.
Cassandra Russell, Head of Fashion, Luxury and Brand Partnerships EMEA at TikTok, says that during the course of the pandemic, the TikTok audience has got older and is more likely to involve families. The platform, which describes itself as focused on entertainment rather than on social media, has recently started working with Shopify to enable storefronts on TikTok. “We really are the toddler in the room in terms of us only being three years old,” says Russell. "And currently there are no proprietary tools that we can offer, but we are working with partners in order to provide really good solutions for retailers.”
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