Ever since Facebook started floating the idea of a Buy button years ago, we’ve been speculating about how social shopping will disrupt retail. But so far, the simple truth seems to be… it hasn’t.
According to figures from ecommerce site Custora, out of the $100 billion in retail transactions that took place between January and March 2016, only 1.5 per cent occurred through social media. Facebook sales accounted for the vast majority of this number at 81 per cent, while Pinterest made up 10.8 per cent. The other 5.2 per cent came through Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
This miniscule figure has led some to question whether social commerce is worth such heavy investment by brands, while others have diagnosed it as “dead in the water.”
“If you’re looking on a last-click basis, there’s been no movement in terms of social media platforms,” says L2 analyst Claude de Jocas. “Even the advent of buy buttons has done absolutely nothing to move the needle.” Pinterest is currently pitching itself to advertisers as the ideal halfway house between social and search; it claims that while Facebook users aren’t on the site to shop, as much as 75 per cent of Pinterest user content contains specific mentions of brands.
However, while transactions through social may not be booming the way retailers hope, it is still a crucial tool. In Salesforce’s 2016 State Of Marketing report, 75 per cent of marketing leaders stated that social generates ROI; up from 29 per cent in 2015. Merchants as diverse as Mercedes-Benz and Abercrombie & Fitch have found that social lacks in sales figures, it more than makes up for in branding.
“When we think about social, we can’t always measure direct last-click, so we look at a variety of metrics in addition to ROI,” says Serena Potter, Group Vice President at Macy’s. “As we look at the platforms from a customer behaviour perspective, we’ve really been able to drive traffic to our website, to our mobile experience to create a re-marketable audience.”