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Is website the only platform for business?
It’s 2017. Get yourself out from the cave!!!
Social media has gone beyond the virtual communication tool. Establish your brands, serve the customers, send traffic to your website and sell directly at there – social media is the ubiquitous business platform and channel for you.
Here, comes the question-
Why do you need a website when social media can promote and sell?
And, if social media is all too functional, shall you abandon the website?
Wait my mate!!! Let’s not draw the conclusion abruptly and understand the new role of social media first.
Social Media vs Website
The battle was inevitable. A website is a decorated digital storefront.
But, to sell and survive, the website always needs audience. To catch the audience, you need channels to reach out to them or let them reach out to you.
Here, social media has made a difference with massive user-base-
Significantly, this user base is kickstarting a movement which we can call “social media commerce or social commerce’ where consumers use the platforms as a singular channel for searching, browsing, and shopping. From a fad, this is shaping out as a function-
Nearly a third of online shoppers (
31%) say they are using these channels to browse for new items to buy. Facebook is the most popular network with 26% user-base, followed by Instagram (8%) and Pinterest (6%).
A new dawn or a better eco-system for digital e-commerce?
There is not an iota of doubt on social media’s potential as a marketing channel. But-
Loads of questions. Let’s dig out the answers-
a) Can social media be the all-in-one digital storefront?
Look what features Facebook and Pinterest, two front runners of the social commerce have in their store-
Selling at Facebook is hassle-free where one just has to follow the process-
First, add a shop section to kick-off your sales on Facebook-
Fill the shop with your products-
Prepare your shop with all the required details.
Facebook has also partnered with the payment gateway Stripe to provide hassle-free payment process.
So, how big Facebook is the business hub? As per their own estimation, More than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month.
They did not stop themselves with their “shop” section, Facebook stepped forward to launch marketplace in six countries where buyers can meet with sellers.
Six months within their new e-commerce step, Facebook Marketplace has ushered in profitability for their users-
Whatever, little exposure Facebook marketplace has got (available only in apps and six countries), they have done more than enough.
We asked ourselves, what has triggered their success–
Huge user base: 1.94 billion monthly active users. No need to scratch your head to drive traffic to your website.
Mobile user base: It’s on the rise and giving a good run to the PC users-
Mobile commerce is no more a fad but a function. Facebook opens up it’s commerce platform with
250 million mobile user base.
Facebook ad: While selling on Facebook, you do not need to look around for a channel to promote your products/service. Explore your desired target audience, tap into yet to conquer territory with rightly optimized Facebook ads.
Cost-effective: Facebook is yet to claim for any commission, have not asked for a listing fee or offered subscription charges for doing business at there. Whereas, a website has their maintenance changes.
Pinterest is not far behind.
Known as “Buyable Pins”, Pinterest let people buy your products without ever leaving Pinterest. Still in a testing mode, the Buyable Pins allow merchants to sell on select commerce platforms, Shopify and Bigcommerce. The feature is only available for the US merchants.
Even within the limitations, there are 60 million buyable pins in the Pinterest.
What is the reason behind the Pinterest success?
Besides their massive user base (
150 million people finding ideas on Pinterest), what trigger the social commerce success on the Pinterest? Here they are-
Niche audience: It’s pretty clear who used this platform most-
When it comes to the Pinterest, the platform is ruled by the female (45%) and Millennials (36%) and Gen X (34%). Merchants who are successfully selling on the Pinterest know the secret code of making most out of this user-base.
2. Option to court more visibility: Like the Facebook, merchants can pay the Pinterest to promote the Buyable Pins. Sellers can opt for the engagement or go for the traffic campaigns.
3. Track performance: Digital merchants need analytics to evaluate every move. Pinterest allows them to track their on-site performance of the promoted Buyable Pins in Ads Manager.
Available only for the transactions that happen directly on Pinterest; merchants won’t see reporting for conversions on other sites.
Let’s Sum Up:
However, except the Facebook and Pinterest, there is less success in social media commerce. Twitter has already
called off their “Buy” button raising questions on the feasibility of the commerce capabilities of a social media platform. Other major social platforms Instagram or Snapchat yet to unleash the facilities in full throttle.
What are the bigger obstacles behind the emergence of social media as the full-fledged commerce platform?
Less Can they be options: Unlike other e-commerce websites, the social media has not offered or diversified their integrated shipping or payment offerings. Websites are the clear winner here with the bagful of features.
User Behavior: Shopping in social media and shopping on the website are two different games. We get lured by any specific products/services in our traffic feed and shop it. Purchasing inside a website is all about the dedicated visit, browsing through different pages and then taking the final shots.
Less Space: Options at the website are so varied that it is no less than a big warehouse with a great range of products, product categories. Whereas, social media have their limitations of being a digital storefront.
Clear and loud. The social media is yet to expand itself into a scalable and complete digital storefront.
Can they buckle up?
Well, Facebook and Pinterest are nice editions to turn the table but to be the fulcrum, they need flexibility, customization, and more features.
b) What are the social media where one can sell their products?
Facebook and Pinterest are spearheading the race. Other leading social commerce Instagram, Snapchat is yet to come up with the feature.
Though with third party platforms Soldsie, Shopial one can sell directly on Instagram. But, are we looking for this? Big No.
With success in their kitty, hope many social platforms follow Facebook and Pinterest.
C) Are these platforms fit for all business?
Both the Facebook and Pinterest have strict guidelines when it comes to selling at their platforms-
As you can notice the Facebook and Pinterest are not viable options for intangible products. If you are into fashion or daily needs industry, social commerce is the “go-and-get” options for you.
d) How scalable can it be?
Social commerce concept from both Facebook and Pinterest have been an eye-opener for the local commerce and the small business.
How far can business scale up with them?
You can bet on the Facebook. The social media giant is on the movement of eating up the internet.
No doubt, they will go against all odds to claim their stake in a lucrative ground where 53% of global Internet users have made an online purchase in 2016 which is approx 1 billion.
But, they need to beat the cut-throat competition where 43% of e-commerce traffic comes from Google search.
When shifted to the social media, merchants will miss the advantages of SEO optimization and traffic from the search engines.
No need to drop your face. Trust the rich AI of the Facebook which will ensure good visibility of your products.
Will you sell on social media?
For enterprise and big business, websites are the better option for business than social media as they have a massive number of products and larger audience. Plus they should have
If local sales are your cup of tea, social commerce can give you a breakthrough.
Go for it right now if you are a newbie to e-commerce and looking for a convenient platform where. Building an e-commerce website, maintaining it and leveraging it for leads and conversion are different ball game.
What if you are all too naive for it? Will you sit in your backyard and let other reaching out?
Facebook and Pinterest are here for you. Let’s start with them. All you need to set up a good social media profile, know the game and start selling. It works. Someone like Sam Hurley has already proved what social media can offer. Abundant leads.
Leads are not the only fruits. Conversion right at the platform is. Yes, it sounds unattainable but possible. It is feasible.
Social media is not an ivory tower detached from the mass. It’s the front line, a device where you can contact with people, engage them and yes, pursue them to buy your product even not leaving the site. A simple math. Start selling now.
Remember, when you grow up, you can always stamp your authority through your own web asset.
Feature Image Source- www.flickr.com/