PayPal released a report last month saying that 61 per cent of businesses are expected to embrace social commerce in 2020.

The following Q&A with VP of Global Merchant Services, Maeve Dorman was first published in the Business Post on May 10, 2020.

Maeve Dorman
Maeve Dorman, Vice President of Global Merchant Services, PayPal

What is social commerce?

Social commerce allows consumers to browse, compare, learn about and buy products through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Why is embracing social commerce necessary in 2020?

Considering that social media continues to play a central role in people′s everyday lives, it comes as no surprise that its influence has now extended into the retail sphere and ecommerce functionality is increasing with ′buy now′ buttons becoming more commonplace across these channels. In turn, social media platforms have become vital for businesses as well. Retailers must recognise the opportunity social commerce offers with huge potential to reach a much larger audience and help drive growth both in Ireland and further afield. The demand for mobile and social commerce will continue to rise as more consumers turn to these channels to interact with retailers, browse products and make purchases.

What benefits will it have for businesses?

By enabling businesses to reach a wider community of engaged customers and potentially grow their social media following, social commerce can help retailers increase the likelihood of new buyers, repeat purchases and consumer referrals. As well as increasing accessibility to and visibility among new audiences, retailers can tap into the consumer demand for greater convenience by showcasing their offering and enabling purchasing functionality on social media. Furthermore, it enhances existing customer engagement, offers a more interactive experience and can serve as a digital shop window to promote new products or the latest deals. It also creates a faster and more accessible consumer experience which helps to prevent shopping cart abandonment and increase sales. Businesses can therefore utilise social commerce to deliver a better shopping experience for their customers, both existing and prospective.

How can companies implement it?

With consumers increasingly shopping and making purchases via mobile devices, retailers need to ensure they are optimised to accept mobile payments and can enable customers to shop via social media. Choice is also vital for consumers, not only in terms of the products being sold but also the payment options being offered – people want to know that their payments will be processed simply, swiftly and securely so having trusted payment options is key. Furthermore, Irish businesses must ensure that their presence on social media platforms is engaging and informative with eye-catching, up-to-date posts and lots of visuals. It is only by fully embracing the world of social commerce that business owners can be better equipped to take on the world of selling online and capitalise on the vast opportunity it presents.

For businesses who chose not to embrace the change, how will it impact them?

Consumers are buying online at a rate greater than ever before and shopping on social platforms is growing rapidly, even though it is a relatively new phenomenon. Businesses need to prioritise mobile and social shopping channels to ensure they are meeting the ever-evolving needs of consumers – however they want to buy, wherever they are and whenever they choose. By offering a seamless shopping experience across multiple platforms and devices, this will help Irish retailers to succeed.

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