Social media “buy buttons” invade the consumer buying process

By Elisa Silverman

| Retail

Both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce shops understand how social media affects their brand values and sales. Reading other people’s shop and product reviews posted on social media is now a common step in the consumer buying process. According to eMarketer, a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study found that 45 percent of respondents who had bought something online in the past year said social media commentary influenced their purchasing decisions.

The study asked about a variety of social media behaviors that have seeped into the consumer buying process, including getting special promotions through social media and social media ads. Interestingly, other research concluded that even with social media increasingly influencing people’s shopping choices and the availability of social media “buy buttons,” there are still fairly low adoption rates of buy buttons by retailers. More than 59 percent of survey retailers said they aren’t using any social media buy buttons, according to the PwC study.

Have you seen a buy button in your social media?

Several social media platforms offer advertisers and companies buy buttons. Shopping and idea-board powerhouses Instagram and Pinterest are obvious choices for many lifestyle brands, since they know their user base already uses their platforms to shop around, find new products and see what others are buying.

With the buy button embedded in the social media app, retailers can capture that moment of inspiration and motivate a decision to buy right then. Now, instead of social media working the flow from the top through the middle of the consumer buying process, it can also close the deal.

Everybody should love the buy buttons … right?

This should all be great news for online retailers, since they get to take advantage of the reams of marketing data to hypertarget ads and get the online sale.

Consumers should like the buy button because it removes any transaction friction. Buyers don’t have to leave the social media platform to go to the retailer’s site, nor do they have to go into a physical store. Social media buy buttons turn demand generation on its head, providing instant satisfaction through mobile, whether people use them to hail a taxi, get in line for a table at a restaurant they’re not at yet or buy what they want to buy the moment they see it online.

Social media loves more than just the ad and sales revenue from retailers. They don’t want people leaving their app to go shop any more than the buyer wants to. With buy buttons, social media platforms provide their user base with valuable functionality — and they don’t have to lure them back once the sale is complete.

However, so far, Retail Dive has reported that buyers aren’t clicking. According to CIO, social media sales held steady across the holiday periods from 2014 to 2015 (1.9 percent and 1.8 percent of all online sales, respectively). Retailers may see the low buy rates and decide they can spend their social media dollars more effectively by influencing consumers through social media ads and direct engagement campaigns with followers.

As mobile payment barriers come down, consumer and retailer confidence will increase. Social media influence on consumer buying decisions continues to grow in the early stages of the buying journey, and it seems likely that this influence will eventually start to have a greater impact in the final buying stages.

Online sales and mobile banking all had their slow adoption periods. The potential for everyone involved in the retail chain here is too big to be ignored. Right now, social media buy buttons may not be having a significant impact on online sales, but social media has certainly proven its power in changing how we think about and do things. There’s no reason to think its power to change the consumer buying process will be any less pronounced.

Image source: iStock

Written By

Elisa Silverman

Technology Writer

Elisa Silverman is a freelance writer, with a professional background in law and technology. She writes for technology companies and professional service firms. In addition, Elisa writes other types of B2B marketing content that help them establish authority and foster relationships…

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