Social Commerce is Growing – Fast. Are you Ready?

url-3As social media has infiltrated nearly every aspect of modern life, it’s no surprise that social commerce is the latest hot topic. Maybe you don’t believe the hype – but you can rely on the studies, including recent stats from Gartner Research that point to social media being responsible for 30 billion dollars in sales within the next five years, and a staggering 50 percent of web sales by 2015.

Yes, that’s right. They’re expecting half of all online sales to take place on social media. Given the influx of social commerce platforms, apps, widgets and add-ons we’ve seen lately, this doesn’t sound so shocking.

What is shocking is that the same study indicated currently only 17 percent of Facebook pages feature products for sale, and of those, only four percent enable check-out within Facebook or other social channels. But if the consumer is social and active on social channels, shouldn’t the products they’re interested in be available there, too?

Luckily for brands wanting to reach their loyal fan bases with their products and bump up that 17 percent number, the options for solutions is growing by the day, ranging from full-service in-stream purchasing to sharing purchases and recommendations on social networks. Even Victoria Beckham’s e-comm site that launched yesterday utilizes social shareable GIFs to sell her clothes.

There are social sharing options for e-comm, like Gigya or in-stream social purchasing solutions like Chirpify, which allows people to buy brands’ products on Twitter and Instagram with a hashtag (and an account linked to PayPal). Last week, they enhanced their platform further by including Facebook as a supported social channel.  No word yet on Pinterest, but it’s apparently part of their plan as well.

Last month, American Express announced the ability for card members to Pay By Tweet. Also using the hastag / linked account model, this option is still only available for select retailers but clearly the way of the future.

The social shopping site, Blomming, launched recently and is essentially a more social-fied Etsy, allowing users to create their own shops and promote their products on Facebook and their own blogs. For the enterprise-sized brands, Social Annex has a range of social commerce solutions from discovery to engagement and analytics, but with fees ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and no in-stream purchasing options yet.

It seems every day, new players are entering the ring of social commerce. It’s only a matter of time before we see which ones will come out on top, or if more financial institutions will follow AMEX’s lead and incorporate social purchasing options. Eventually, we won’t call it “social commerce” but simply: commerce.

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