For Business

How to sell on social

Why social commerce should be part of your omnichannel sales strategy and how to get started


With more than 58% of the world’s population—or nearly 4.6 billion people—now active on social media, reaching consumers where they are is an emerging priority for ecommerce businesses. What’s more, a fast-increasing share of global ecommerce is happening on social media.

Social commerce, or social selling, is when businesses sell their products or services directly through social media using in-app shopping capabilities. For the consumer, the entire shopping journey—from discovery to checkout—is hosted within the social media platform, such as in a post or an ad.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers and brands alike migrated to digital platforms in vast numbers, while influencer marketing sales more than doubled. Consumers increasingly demand instant gratification, including validation from their peers and getting online orders shipped fast, so the brands that can keep up with their expectations for online shopping have a competitive advantage.

Consumers embrace social shopping

“Social commerce is more than just a new shopping experience,” experts concluded in a recent report from McKinsey about the dynamic category’s rapid growth. “It represents a paradigm shift in how consumers interact with brands: where, when, and how they shop.”

According to Deloitte, that paradigm shift could amount to $2 trillion globally by 2025, with social commerce sales expected to continue growing by about 18% each year.

Deloitte’s research shows that 64% of digital buyers discover brands and products through social media, and 67% of social media users would consider a brand or product if promoted by their favorite influencer. Today’s shoppers seek out social proof, and many are looking for it on social media. So as more shoppers make purchasing decisions on social media, platforms are evolving to offer seamless one-stop shopping experiences directly within their apps.

Social commerce represents the convergence of online retail and social networking, driven by integrated features like in-app purchasing and product catalogs, group buying, and shoppable live streaming. Within the past couple years, platforms across the board, including TikTok, Meta, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Snapchat, Twitch, and Pinterest, have released new in-app shopping capabilities or have enhanced previous capabilities.

In fact, Amazon collaborated with Meta and Snapchat to launch in-app shopping in November. “For the first time, customers will be able to shop Amazon’s Facebook and Instagram ads and check out with Amazon without leaving the social media apps,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “Customers in the US will see real-time pricing, Prime eligibility, delivery estimates, and product details on select Amazon product ads in Facebook and Instagram as part of the new experience.”

With the entire customer journey now living within the social platform, brands can offer authentic engagement and connection, product discovery, shareability, and an easy path to purchase all in one channel—a channel where shoppers are already spending so much of their time.

For the past 11 years, CedCommerce has been helping ecommerce merchants scale their growth across platforms and sales channels. And as a Buy with Prime Partner, it’s helping merchants optimize Buy with Prime on their sites with integrations like Social Ads for Buy with Prime. CedCommerce’s Senior Partnerships Manager Shivangi Tiwari shares her insights into the unstoppable force that is social commerce.

What are the benefits of social commerce as part of an omnichannel sales strategy

SHIVANGI: Bridging a path to purchase on social media helps users go from discovery to purchase without having to leave the app. Social selling forms a mini-shopping experience right on the user’s social platforms, enticing them to shop by interacting with the products and services, often along with the convenience of reviews on the same page.

An omnichannel strategy allows you to deliver on shopper expectations by being available wherever they shop. Staying ahead of the competition and increasing your touch points in the new market spaces should be a top priority in the dynamic ecommerce industry. The strategy also creates an upward ladder of brand recognition. Although building a social media community takes time and effort, it’s important to remember that the relationships are what lead to long-term success in social commerce.

Social networks have become an integral part of everyday businesses and of greater omnichannel strategies, and at CedCommerce we’ve seen revenue growth of up to 30% for merchants once they enter into social sales.

What are key points merchants should know about social commerce?

SHIVANGI: It’s important to understand that in social commerce, the entire shopping experience for the buyer unfolds on the medium itself. The journey of exploring the brand, product discovery, research, and the checkout process all happens on the platform where they’re browsing. So you should prioritize running the right kind of campaigns, creating engaging content for shoppers and audience-centric advertising.

One of the key differentiators of social selling is that it’s the most quick and transparent two-way communication medium, making it a powerful recommendations engine. The potential for hyper-personalization is also a major opportunity for merchants. For example, when a consumer interacts with a post about perfumes, they’re presented with more perfume-related content. Customers tend to make a purchase faster if they feel that their shopping journey is personalized. Social commerce should be one of your key sources of customer data and interests.

Engaging and visually appealing content is vital for social commerce. Use high-quality images and videos to showcase your products. Storytelling and user-generated content can also enhance your brand’s identity and connect with customers on a more personal level.

What are signals that an ecommerce merchant is ready to expand to social sales? And where should they start?

SHIVANGI: If you wait for an opportunity to knock, it might just pass you by. There comes a time in every company’s cycle when you’ll see signs indicating the need to expand and grow your business.

  • When you start to see demand surpass supply and you have the infrastructure to produce more, it’s time to move ahead. For all the ecommerce merchants who have sustained high levels of performance, pursuing social commerce is the right decision.
  • If you operate in a category that serves a younger audience base, your brand might excel in the social selling space. Whether it’s about gamification or influencer marketing, the simple logic of selling dictates that you should be available where your target audiences already are. Start by analyzing where your target audience likes to hang out online and what kind of content that they like to consume, and prioritize from there.

If you have to choose one channel, I’d say every brand should set up and optimize an Instagram for Business profile. A business account gives you access to tons of additional features, such as Instagram Insights. With data on customer engagement and conversion metrics, for example, you can refine your social commerce strategy, optimize ad spend, and tailor products to meet market demand.

What social commerce platforms and tools are available?

SHIVANGI: There are many tools out there to help you integrate ecommerce into social media or manage your social presence and engage with customers. Because mobile commerce accounts for the majority of ecommerce sales, your tools and social sales strategies should be applicable to both web and mobile users.

It’s important to choose the platforms and tools that best align with your business goals, target audience, and the social networks where you have a strong presence. The right combination of tools can help you effectively implement and manage your social sales strategy.

  • Instagram: According to CedCommerce’s internal data analysis, 77% of merchants who sell products directly on social media use Instagram. The platform’s shopping features, including shoppable posts and Instagram Shops, have made it a significant player in social commerce. Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms specifically for teens and younger adults, especially in the US.
  • Facebook: With nearly 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook is inarguably the largest and most popular social media platform in the world. The platform has seen a demographic shift, but it’s still the big dog on the social media block. Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Shops, and the integration of shopping features in Facebook and Instagram make it a versatile channel for merchants.
  • YouTube Shopping: YouTube has a massive user base, and video content can be an effective way to demonstrate and review products. If your business could benefit from producing brand tutorials, instructional content, product reviews, or guest interviews, then this platform is a must. YouTube Shopping products include shoppable ads and livestream shopping.
  • TikTok Shop: A recent TikTok study found that one out of four users are likely to buy something on TikTok Live while on the platform, and over half of its users look for details about products that they’ve seen on the platform. Translation: There’s an active user base of social shoppers on TikTok who are interested in discovering products and making purchases. TikTok Shop is a unique feature that lets merchants, brands, and creators present and sell their products directly on TikTok. Using the TikTok Shop Connector by CedCommerce merchants can expand to this sales channel effortlessly. Whether you have a small business or a large enterprise, you can connect your ecommerce site to TikTok Shop to sync product inventory, orders, pricing, and more, and start selling your products on TikTok in no time.
  • Facebook and Instagram shopping app: This app from CedCommerce is among the most popular in the Shopify App Store. It syncs your Shopify site with both Facebook and Instagram, taking advantage of how Meta has increasingly unified these two services. The app lets you do everything from plan marketing campaigns to conduct sales to monitor inventory.
  • TikFeed is a strong option for selling on TikTok, and you can also install it from the Shopify App Store. It uses a slider and grid layout to capture the attention of TikTok users and makes the TikTok video feed on your ecommerce store stoppable.

What types of merchants or product categories work best for social commerce?

SHIVANGI: With the ever-evolving interests of today’s buyers, social selling can be effective for a wide range of product categories. However, certain categories see higher growth rates than others.

  • Fashion and apparel: This category tops the charts when it comes to social selling. According to our internal research, 27% of consumers prefer to discover new fashion and apparel products through social media over any other channel. Social media is popular for shoppers and influencers exploring this category, and brands can easily showcase the latest trends through visual content.
  • Beauty and cosmetics: Makeup, skincare, and beauty products often gain traction on social media. For example, the specialty skincare brand Glossy recently sold out two product lines in an online store by partnering with a TikTok influencer who offered a one-day-only discount code. Tutorials, product demonstrations, and user-generated content play a significant role in promoting products in this category.
  • Health and fitness: Products related to health, fitness, and wellness, such as athleisure wear, supplements, and fitness equipment, can find a dedicated audience on social media. Brands in this category have been drawing consumers to their own channels with engaging and innovative short videos and live streaming. Fitness influencers are known for promoting these products and often have some of the highest audience loyalty.

While these product categories often perform well in social commerce, it’s important to remember that with the right marketing strategy, many product categories can find success on social media. But building brand equity is a long-term project, and you can’t expect instant sales. Start by posting meaningful content and engaging in sincere discussions.

What are common mistakes merchants make in social commerce?

SHIVANGI: While social selling is a fantastic form of ecommerce, many businesses don’t exercise enough caution in formulating their strategies.

Being aware of these pitfalls can help you avoid them:

  • Absence of omnichannel management: Selling on several different channels increases the challenge of creating a smooth customer experience. You can get expertise and support on different channels, but if you don’t establish an omnichannel ecosystem around all the channels with centralized management, then the customer retention cycle remains incomplete.
  • Inconsistent product tagging and promotions: Shoppers often express frustration about products that they can’t find easily and price discrepancies across different channels. Inconsistent product tagging and promotions can hinder the journey of high-value customers. Improving these aspects is crucial for establishing loyalty and trust.
  • Disconnect between checkout and returns: Products purchased on social platforms are returned through platforms—not the brands—but roughly 40% of social shoppers are still unsure who to contact when they need to make a return, and 43% incorrectly think they should contact the brand. Just 15% of shoppers actually know who to contact. Consumer awareness will improve and the technology will continue to advance, but in the meantime, consider educating social shoppers with language in your posts, your post-purchase emails, or a link to an FAQ page about how returns are handled.
  • Ignoring mobile optimization: Many social media users access platforms using mobile devices and complete their shopping journey with the mobile interface itself. If your website or checkout process isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk losing potential customers.

What are some best practices for merchants tapping into social commerce?

SHIVANGI: The power of social commerce is in social proof. When a buyer is unsure, the best recommendations are those provided by a fellow user of that product. It not only creates a sense of relatability, but also of reliability compared to branding done by a famous celebrity.

  • Foster trust and transparency: It’s important to establish a strong and trustworthy brand presence on social platforms to promote customer loyalty, especially as the social commerce landscape evolves. This can be achieved through strategies such as leveraging augmented reality and collaborating with micro-influencers.
  • Use influencer marketing: Influencer culture still faces backlash from traditional marketers, but it’s a proven method for encouraging your audience to engage and purchase from your brand. Partner with influencers in your niche to promote your products. Influencers can help you reach a wider and more targeted audience.
  • Personalize the shopping experience: Selling on social and engaging through DMs allows your team to connect personally with your customers. Be friendly, use your customers’ names, and offer personalized recommendations. Responding to comments and messages and engaging in conversations with your audience can yield exceptional results in social sales.

Learn more about how CedCommerce can help you get the most out of Buy with Prime.


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John Kultgen