The Failure and Evolution of Social Commerce

May 15, 2013 by Camille Brenkwitz

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Proponents of technology have always stated that one of the most widespread benefits of new technology is in making life easier. But the truth is for many business owners social media has made their life more complicated. To keep up they need to have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and whatever the next hottest technology is. For retailers this is exacerbated because the opportunity to drive meaningful sales through social commerce has been widely promised. But many organizations are wisely asking is social commerce real and how much of a headache is it?

Social Commerce 1.0

Many of the first wave social commerce companies created system that lived entirely in Facebook. While there was understandable excitement around the concept there was a real disconnect between the promise and the actual product. Most published a Facebook store that lived entirely on a tab of the businesses page. While this seemed good in concept, what was missed is that most people spend their time reading the news feed, not spending time browsing tabs on a businesses page. This meant there was rarely enough visitors to drive sales.

The first wave of social commerce was often further complicated the matter because social commerce systems were usually not the same systems as a businesses eCommerce platform. That meant that the business owner was often managing two systems - quite the headache! The few that did offer one platform for both eCommerce and social commerce usually sent you offsite when you went to purchase. Think about how clunky it is to start the purchasing process on Facebook, then end up on some other site half way through. There's been a lot of research into how adding extra steps lowers conversation rates, and this is surely no exception.

It's no wonder with a complicated, clunky experience that didn't drive real sales, the first wave of social commerce failed. But that doesn't mean that the concept itself was completely off. HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of users are on social networks, your customers ARE there, and as they say in real-estate: location, location, location matters.

Social Commerce 2.0 - In Stream Payments

A new wave of social commerce is beginning to emerge that looks more like a native social payment experience. What does this mean exactly? Merchants can offer their products for sale directly to purchase right on the social networks where their marketing and networking happens. But instead of a merchant advertising their new t-shirt design on their Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr page and placing a link to their product page, they can embed the purchasing option directly on their post in the social network. This eliminates a whole step in the purchasing process! In the case of PayStand the whole process looks seamless whether a merchant is featuring their products on Facebook, Twitter, Twitter, or even blogs. Everything posted can go directly to the news feed where customers are actually engaging and in most cases the entire purchasing process can stay in network. This helps make the process smoother and maximizes conversion purchasing.

To see this in action, check out one of PayStand's featured artist Travis Oberg and his band Your Local Saltwater Merchants. His Facebook page is linked directly to his PayStand merchandise, allowing the customer to purchase directly on Facebook.

What's more with PayStand, all of a merchants different storefronts (such as on Facebook, Tumblr and their own website) are all linked on the central database. So, when a merchant adds a new item, it updates on all storefronts automatically. New products can be pushed to any one of the networks at any time with a quick push of a button. This reduces the merchants work in managing their different storefronts, and provides valuable data about what marketing is most effective.

Want to see if Social Commerce 2.0 is any better? Just sign with PayStand and in 5 minutes you can see how PayStand is helping evolve online sales with in-stream social payments feature.