What is a Good Social and Visual Commerce Strategy?

Facebook comes fourth for average order value

As the number of social media users drastically increased in the last years, social commerce naturally became part of any good e-commerce strategy. Business owners are slowly getting comfortable with the idea of using social networking technologies as online sales drivers. In fact, social media is now perceived as a bridge that can connect consumers to retailers. A recent research by Shopify found that Facebook was the top social commerce site worldwide. This certainly does not come as a surprise considering that being on Facebook is almost a prerequisite for most businesses. However, it seems that this popular social media is not the leader in term of average order value…

According to Shopify’s research, Polyvore is the website that generates the highest order value with an average of $66.75 when it comes to social commerce. Polyvore is followed closely by Instagram ($65.00) and Pinterest ($58.95). Facebook comes in fourth position with an average order value of $55.00.


The Value of Visual Websites 

Polyvore, Instagram and Pinterest are three social networking websites with distinctive features. Nevertheless, they share a common trait: the prevalence of pictures on their interface. Thus, the content of these three social platforms is mainly visual.

  • Polyvore allows people to create “sets” which are collections and collages. These sets can be built by mixing and matching products from several online stores, including a store of your own. Therefore, there is an opportunity for retailers to add their products to the site and to promote them using creative sets.
  • Instagram users can easily capture a moment by taking a picture, customize it with a filter and share it on the network. The simplicity of the concept gives a lot of freedom for companies to generate content about a brand, product or service.
  • Pinterest offers users the possibility to gather images they love by « pinning » them on customized « boards ». Users can download the pictures from their computer, pick them from retailers’ web sites through a « pin » button or use pictures already on the site. Thereby, a little bit of creativity can boost sales for almost anything!

The ranking presented previously demonstrates the potential of social networking websites with visual displays to drive online sales. However, there are only a limited number of companies who are fully using these tools as part of their e-commerce strategy. It seems that the way to reap the benefits of this new type of media is still unclear for managers.

 What is a Good Social and Visual Commerce Strategy?

There are no secrets in designing an effective social and visual commerce strategy. First of all, make sure that the use of visual social networking sites is consistent with your business goals (ex: type of product).  Second, learn as much as possible about the tools you intend to use and get comfortable with them. Finally, assist the consumers in their whole decision process to benefit from the full marketing potential of social commerce. To schematize, here are the four functions your website should fulfill:

  1. Need recognition: Be a source of inspiration for pending purchases
  2. Pre-Purchase activities: Be a source of information for planned purchases
  3. Purchase decision: Be a source of information about when and where to buy
  4. Post-purchase activities: Be a sounding board for consumption experiences

In conclusion, there are no specific guidelines for social commerce on visual sites… yet. The future of this e-commerce tool is in the hands of the most creative marketers!

 Sources: eMarketerShopify 

Yadav, Manjit S., Kristine de Valck, Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, Donna L. Hoffman et Martin Spann (2013). « Social Commerce: A Contingency Framework of Assessing Marketing Potential », Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 27, no 4, p. 311-323.