Social shoppers prefer to check out brand sites | Consumer Trends

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Here are the top five issues consumers think about before putting their hard-earned cash on social media.

| by Charles Nicholls — Founding Director and Chief Strategy Officer, SimplicityDX

If you believed all the hype surrounding social commerce right now, you might think that social commerce will completely remove the need for an e-commerce platform. The reality is that e-commerce platforms are not going away. However, shopping has moved to the periphery. The periphery is where consumers are increasingly discovering products outside of the brand’s e-commerce store. Among these peripheral touchpoints, social is a very important channel for helping customers discover your brand’s products, but much less important when it comes to buying them.

The State of Social Commerce

In a February 2021 study of 501 social shoppers by SimplicityDX, 71% of online shoppers prefer to pay on the brand’s site rather than directly on the social network. For comparison, only 13% prefer to pay on the social network, while 16% have no preference.

This is helpful in understanding how the majority of consumers want to use social media as part of their buying journey. What the data tells us is that social media is a great place to discover new products, but consumers want safety and security when shopping on the brand’s site.

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand why and what motivates consumers. There are five big questions that make consumers think before handing over their hard-earned cash to social media:

#1: Trust
More than half of online shoppers fear sharing personal data with social networks, fearing it will be misused. A series of missteps by social media companies on consumer privacy issues in the past means that many online shoppers are reluctant to share personal data with social networks. The same goes for sharing credit card data with social networks.

#2: Inventory
Product availability is a big issue post COVID-19 with almost all online shoppers encountering product availability issues while shopping on social media. It is clear that there is a disconnect between the available-to-promise (ATP) inventory on the commerce platform and what is showing as available on social media. In the example on the right, a purchase was canceled by Instagram a few days after the initial order because Instagram had sold an out-of-stock product. Although fast-moving items with low inventory are particularly susceptible to this problem, customers will quickly learn that it’s best to simply buy from the brand’s site where this usually doesn’t happen. Until social platforms make real-time ATP calls, this problem will persist.

No. 3: Shopping experience
In over 30 years of e-commerce, consumers have become familiar with the standard methods of shopping on e-commerce sites. Due to the immaturity of social platforms, many of these familiar constructs do not exist, such as searching and filtering products.

Often, brands don’t upload their full product catalog to social platforms for a combination of reasons, and consumers may want to buy more broadly than specific items. Brand sites also often offer additional product information and rich media that help customers make buying decisions, making the brand site a better place to buy.

No. 4: Product returns
Our research also shows that 85% of online shoppers don’t know how to return products purchased directly on social media. The majority (wrongly) believe that contacting the brand directly is the right way, but it is not. When the transaction comes from a social network, the social network is the merchant of record and therefore responsible for returns and refunds. It would be very unwise for brands to support customers directly outside of this structure.

No. 5: Authenticity of the product
Shopping in marketplaces is not without risk – it is home to scams and counterfeit products. Some brands, such as Birkenstock, have pulled their products from marketplaces due to the large number of counterfeit products presented as genuine. Many customers know this and want to know that they are buying the genuine item. For others, the full brand experience is key to motivating them to buy in the first place.

While consumer trends may change over time, currently most social shoppers clearly prefer the brand experience and don’t want to pay on a social platform.

This suggests that redirecting traffic to the brand’s site should be the preferred option for the majority of brands.

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