Will social commerce change the face of fast fashion buying?
Working as we do with many of the UK’s biggest fast fashion brands including ASOS, Missguided, PrettyLittleThing, Boohoo, QUIZ and New Look we know all too well the power of social media as a brand awareness and inspiration tool.
The sticking point to date has always been converting the interest and intent created by these platforms into action. Which is why Instagram adding a shopping tab allowing retailers to tag products in ‘stories’ has got everyone talking.
It’s no overstatement to say it’s a watershed point in ecommerce. Finally brands will be able to instantly convert inspiration browsers into buyers on a mass scale.
The long-term impact could be seismic – especially if rumours that Instagram is preparing to launch its own standalone shopping app are founded.
Missguided reported a 9000% uplift in sales as a result of their clothes being worn by Love Islanders on screen. Imagine the impact on annual sales if viewers could then instantly purchase each item Islanders wore on Instagram in the months that followed?
LiketoKnowit – the app that allows customers to purchase the looks from thousands of influencers around the world, accrued 1.3 million registered users and made $300 million in sales in its first year. Little wonder that Technavio’s analysts are predicting the social commerce market could enjoy compound annual growth of 33.9% by 2021.
There is however a healthy dose of skepticism. Facebook struggled with making social commerce work and Twitter introduced and withdrew its buy button in rapid succession. But the average engagement rate for UK retailers per post on Instagram is 0.78% compared to 0.08% on Facebook and 0.06% on Twitter so the potential is far greater.
I use Instagram and Pinterest for lifestyle inspiration and discovery – just like I used to window shop or browse catalogues. So it’s a natural step that I’d click on a ‘product pin’ in the same way I’d cross the threshold of a shop with an enticing enough window.
For me, as a potentially (prolific!) user of these services and as someone working with retailers each day, four factors will determine how quickly social commerce takes hold:
1. The accuracy of the data powering the shopping experience: Dynamic pricing and stock information are musts otherwise I’ll stop using it fast. Noone wants the frustration of discovering that something they’ve fallen in love with can’t be bought
2. My treasured moments of dreaming being compromised: Yes, I want the convenience of being able to instantly buy something I fall in love with. But I don’t want that to come at the expense of the over-commercialisation of my treasured browsing time. Retailers are going to have to tread a fine line to keep their users happy in browsing and buying modes
3. Social media platforms are going to have to find a way of retaining their authenticity: Influencers are influencers because they become icons organically. The more explicitly commercial the link between influencer and retailer the more removed they become from the authenticity that gave them the influence in the first place. Social media platforms and retailers are going to have to find a way to solve this conundrum to retain the loyalty of users and customers
4. Fulfillment being up to scratch: If I can buy an image I love in a single step I’ll expect it to arrive just as seamlessly in my hands. Currently 57% of fast fashion parcels at Doddle locations are collected on Day 0 (the day they arrive). As social commerce takes hold frictionless convenience in fulfilment will become an ever-greater brand differentiator.