Social shopping: Is social commerce the future of e-commerce? 

Author: Aurélie Fischler - Social media strategist at Emakina.BE

“I love your shirt! Where did you buy it?” “Ah thanks! I got it on Instagram.” 

While we all knew it would be possible at some stage, social shopping has arrived (and boy is it thriving). We’re talking about social commerce of course, the shopping method that’s taking the internet by storm. In this article, we give you a clear overview of what social commerce is, how to integrate it into your strategy and pose the question of whether it will take over e-commerce, along with examples of brands who have perfected their social commerce offering down to a T. 

Social commerce is NOT e-commerce – so then what is it? 

Social commerce is the selling of products directly via social media – giving users a frictionless customer experience where they can explore and purchase a product directly from their favourite social media app. In other words, it’s simply amazing! Using social media as a sales channel allows for deeper interactions between a user and a product – think reviews, comments, instructions, sharing etc. All the functionalities are at the user’s fingertips. When you think about it, this is very different to your typical e-commerce journey (which is exactly why brands are taking notice). 

A radical shift in power 

Post-COVID, people are relying on people more and more, making social commerce set to be a $1.2 trillion industry by 2025. This means that the social commerce industry will nearly triple. With around 44% of the world’s population on social media, it makes sense that users will want the option to make purchases on their favourite app. Most consumers spend two and a half hours a day on social media platforms for their fix on a variety of topics including news, entertainment, communication and now also commerce. At the rate that social commerce is growing, some have started to question whether it will take over e-commerce in the future?  

While the e-commerce boom is still going strong (global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $6 trillion by 2024), it is important to note that social commerce will take a growing share of the cut. The opportunity this presents to brands is the ability to communicate their brand identity better. Marketplaces are product-centred, making it easy for a brand’s values to be overlooked. By selling through social commerce, brands (big and small) are able to build brand equity and engagement much better. While it’s too soon to really say if the one will take over the other, what we can say is that users are looking to shop on platforms that put people at the heart of it. Social commerce allows you to do just that. It puts recommendations and reviews from peers at the forefront and builds a lot more trust than your traditional Amazon product page. 

Brands that are selling up a social storm  

Kylie Cosmetics 

Kylie Jenner’s $1.2 billion cosmetics empire has become the go-to brand for everything social commerce. With over 150 products with detailed descriptions on Instagram, viewers can also shop the products via TikTok (products are tagged in the videos which sends users to an in-app product page which leads them to the website’s purchase page). 


In 2020, searches for ‘Anthropologie home décor inspiration’ rose 1,057% year-on-year on Pinterest. The trendy apparel and home goods retailer responded with a digital-only catalogue on Pinterest called ‘Anthroliving’. Users could view and interact with the brand’s collection, Pin items they liked, create their own boards and of course click through to buy the products on their website.


The global teeth-whitening brand Zimba embraced the Facebook Shops platform to offer customers their products directly on the social media channel. They did this by creating a digital storefront allowing customers to shop without leaving the app. What’s more, they made it possible for customers to contact the brand’s customer service representatives directly on Messenger and Instagram Direct Message. This real-time interaction meant customers could seamlessly get support, track their orders and ask any questions they had. The results? A 6.7% increase in order value from buyers of social media (compared to the website).  

Dear brands: don’t fall behind 

As user-centric marketing continues to grow and flourish, more and more brands are looking for ways to offer their customers ways to shop that suits them. Consumers want products to be served to them however they want it and social shopping undoubtedly ticks a lot of their boxes. The brands who are not quite open to exploring these new territories are the ones who will be missing out, if not now, definitely in future. It goes without saying that building a people-centric brand strategy needs to take centre stage in your marketing. At Emakina, our expert strategists are on hand to help you accommodate your users best. And right now? That’s very much in the social space. Let’s chat social commerce implementation. 



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