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Yesterday, Retail Week ran an interesting panel-based webinar on Social Commerce, hosted by Joanna Perry, Retail Week’s Acting Features Editor.

The star of the show was Joanna Robb, Multi Channel Development Manager, at B&Q (UK DIY chain), who kept bringing the conversation back to “…and how much money is it going to make us?”  ATG’s EMEA marketing director, Mireia Fontbernat, Bazaarvoice’s sales director, Jennifer Bers, both had some interesting insights into the state of social commerce today, and the future.

The 60 minute webinar has been posted online here (free but requires registration), but here’s a quick summary of our top takeouts…

  • The key question that social commerce must answer is “….and how much money is it going to make us?” Social commerce may have more proof-points than social media marketing in this respect, but it still has some way to go (what’s the added value of Facebook storefronts, user Q&A forums, or Deal Feeds?)
  • The first step in implementing social commerce should be to deploy user ratings and reviews (or other user-generated advertorial content), as it is safe, simple and effective – boosting  conversion rates on average 25% (Bazaarvoice clients) and increasing average order value AOV (top rated products tend to be more expensive).
  • To measure (and prove) the value of social commerce to your business, start by running A/B tests with and without user ratings and reviews, and measure impact on conversion, AOV and sales.
  • All communities need a purpose, or they die out – they need to help people do stuff.  Onsite communities should stick with helping people decide what to buy; be authentic about why your site it there (to sell stuff).
  • Don’t engage with social media unless you are prepared (and have the resources) to be seen to be listening and acting on what people are saying.  You’ll end up setting expectations, letting people down, and damaging your reputation.
  • Engage your most active participants as ‘special advisors’ in a private forum – an inner circle to help with New Product Development and market research – and give them a voice on your site (e.g. testimonials on your blog)
  • The future of social commerce is
    • Personalized: recommendations from people like me, people I trust, and people I know
    • Prevalent: we’ll see more retailers facilitating more customer to customer conversations in more places
    • Portable: conversations and stores will become portable feeds, appearing across the web, as well as in stores, and in other marketing channels
    • Profit: it’s all about how much money social commerce makes us, the rest is just conversation
    • Referrals: customer-get-customer reward schemes linked in to social media and social networks
    • Mobile: fusing social media content with mobile technology and commerce