From Social Commerce to Syndicated Commerce
Part 10 in a series introducing my new book, The End of Business as Usual…this series serves as the book’s prequel.
Today’s social media best practices will show you the marvels of creative marketing in social networks, the benefits of customer service on Twitter and blogs, innovations in co-created products and services, and insights into how to build a more engaged business. As organizations migrate from rigid to social business models, no line of business, department, function, or small business for that matter, will go untouched or unchanged. So what’s next? As you can see in the image above, one of the more aggressive trends on the horizon is social commerce and it centers on improving the complicated relationships that exist between…
1. Consumers and their friends/peers as they shop
2. Consumers and retailers
3. Retailers and Brands
4. Brands and Consumers, pre-, mid and post commerce
The idea of buying with friends is not necessarily new. But, sharing in purchase experiences, interacting with products through connected apps, and influencing decisions through social and mobile networks is quickly becoming “the next big thing.” And, it’s also quickly becoming the next big wonderment. The idea of social commerce is so big, so distributed that entire ecosystems are forming around each of the four categories listed above. Like social media, social commerce is bigger than how we view social today – meaning its bigger than Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and Groupon. This is about building meaningful relationships with customers. This is our opportunity to create useful and shareable experiences that satisfy the needs of consumers and sparks engagement between brands, retailers, friends, and friends of friends.
SpinBack, a social commerce and analytics platform that was recently acquired by BuddyMedia, published a clever infographic that demonstrates the value and possibilities of social commerce. In four simple, yet profound steps, socialized commerce makes the case for retailers. However social commerce just isn’t about being social. This is about defining an integrated and substantial experiences across the entire ecosystem. The nature of how consumers interact with one another, brands, and retailers is fundamentally a higher touch proposition than ever before.
Imagine sending a more sophisticated social consumer to your website or social presence as it exists today? Ask yourself, what’s so compelling about the clickpath today that would compel a discerning consumer to travel from beginning to end and find the journey so completely fascinating that they will tweet, update Facebook, and update every relevant network along the way. Chances are, they won’t. This is why developing a foundation for social commerce is just the beginning. Designing the entire online customer experience, from beginning to end, is where our focus will lie over the next few years. Add to that a layer of engagement, and you can feel and count the effects of the disruptive nature of socialized commerce.
For those who seek inspiration or justification, Spinback assembled some astounding facts. Here are just a few standouts:
- 90% of all purchases are subject to social influence
- Social commerce is expected to generate $30 billion in 2015 (just a few short years away)
- Facebook friends are four times more valuable than Twitter followers
As you lead the way, it’s often helpful to point to stats or achievements to make the case for change even if you’re in the middle of an existing strategy. At the same time, every new year introduces the need for new plans. As we can see, short term success is possible. The question is, how do you translate the short term to longer term value? Nonetheless, we can see that using Groupon, The Gap generated $11 million in one-day sales. Through F-commerce, Pampers sold more than 1,000 diapers in one hour. And, LivingSocial drove more than 42,000 shares in one day for a $20 Amazon voucher.
Social Commerce Opens the Door (and Conversation) to Syndicated Commerce
Social commerce is just one part of a multifaceted approach to a new era commerce. It’s important to realize that there is no one way to reach every consumer with a sweeping commerce strategy. One to many now longer works in a time where consumers are not only connected, they’re empowered. Remember, social commerce only reaches a finite percentage of your overall prospects. Such is true for any other single channel such as mobile or F-commerce. True commerce must be far more comprehensive, yet focused than any one channel.
Social commerce in of itself, is a vast universe that covers social networks, apps, F-Commerce (Facebook Commerce), mobile, Facebook Connect and Twitter @Anywhere, and much much more. As consumer needs, preferences and networks of relevance are as varied as they are concentrated, the focus of any social commerce strategy moving forward should not solely target the social consumer, but instead the connected consumer. This means that social plays into a much more expansive approach that reaches consumers through their channels of preference.
Sounds easy enough right? Not so fast. Ask any consumer what it is they expect from a brand or retailer online and they’ll tell you that in addition to discounts, promotions, special offers and exclusive information, they want the ability to buy within their network.
To quote the now cult-status video, Double Rainbow, “what does this mean?”
It means that businesses must now think about a distributed commerce strategy that accounts not only for social commerce, but also all forms of commerce ranging from mobile commerce (m-commerce), e-commerce, Facebook commerce (F-commerce), social commerce, real world (in-store) commerce, e-mail commerce, and every other form of commerce that matters.
The future of commerce is not simply social. The future of commerce takes a holistic approach in the form of syndicated commerce. Customer deals, offers, promotions, and experiences must be one with the brand and the brand experience. To achieve oneness across syndicated commerce, business leaders must define the experience, desired outcomes, and mutual benefits along the way. More importantly, each platform must feed into a single system that identifies people, their relationships, and their preferences to introduce substance and value – regardless of medium.
Oh but what is the reward or ROI for all of the extra expenditures, resources and time required to build out an entirely new system? Well, what’s the cost of irrelevance or obsolescence when the I in ROI could stand for ignorance? Certainly by developing a dedicated, yet holistic strategy is far more lucrative than continuing on a path of business as usual. What’s at stake is customer engagement, deeper customer loyalty, and ultimately drive sales and profit.
Syndicated commerce delivers value to consumers and shapes and steers experiences that deliver long term value to businesses.
Social media is a great disruptor and it is rightfully earning its place within the foundation of everyday business. But our job is only just beginning. We cannot rest on validation that organizations now Tweet, blog, or maintain a presence on Facebook or Youtube. That’s not what this consumer revolution is about. What’s happening now is not because of social media nor will businesses transform simply because of social networks. Instead, businesses must realize that disruptive channels and networks represent an opportunity for insight and engagement. Even though many businesses are using social media now merely for marketing purposes, the ability for businesses to listen to, learn from, and connect with customers will transform the entire organization from the inside out. From customer service to employee relations to product development to commerce, social media and disruptive technology in general sets the stage for a new era of business.
To be continued…
About the Author: Brian Solis is principal at FutureWorks PR, an award-winning PR and Social Media agency founded in 1999. FW PR bridges the communications gap between companies and their customers, and between products and their specific benefits for their target markets. Solis blogs at PR2.0, http://www.briansolis.com, and regularly contributes to many industry trades. He is also frequently quoted in articles relating to technology trends and Marketing/PR strategies.