In Accenture’s first global research report on social commerce, the company predicts that the social commerce industry will grow three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, reaching $1.2 trillion by 2025.
As defined in the company’s report, “social commerce means a person’s entire shopping experience — from product discovery to the check-out process — takes place on a social media platform.”
Accenture’s survey found that, in the last year, 64 percent of social media users made a social commerce purchase, which the company estimates to account for nearly 2 billion social buyers globally. Moreover, the research suggests the growth of social commerce will largely be driven by Gen Z and Millennial social media users.
“The pandemic showed how much people use social platforms as the entry point for everything they do online — news, entertainment and communication,” said Robin Murdoch, global Software & Platforms industry lead at Accenture. “The steady rise in time spent on social media reflects how essential these platforms are in our daily life. They’re reshaping how people buy and sell, which provides platforms and brands with new opportunities for user experiences and revenue streams.”
Highlighting how social commerce has been extremely successful, Accenture shared an example of successful social commerce where two of China’s top livestreamers (Li Jiaqi and Viya) sold $3 billion worth of items in a single day this past October.
The opportunity, said authors of the report, stems from the consumer’s heightened need for connection during the pandemic. In fact, Accenture’s survey found that 63 percent of consumers feel connected with friends and family virtually, 42 percent feel connected using virtual experiences, 49 percent say communities have found new ways to support one another and 62 percent feel closer to friends and family while 51 percent to immediate neighbors and 44 percent to their communities.
“For many people, social platforms are the entry point for everything they do online — news, entertainment and communication,” the authors said of the report. “Now commerce is in the mix, too. People want to buy products and services based on recommendations and inspiration from people they trust. That could be family, friends and communities, and it can also be authentic influencers they follow on social media.”
With this in mind, the company said any brand large or small can sell via social commerce and any individual has the potential to create a brand of their own to reach a market directly. According to Accenture, social commerce engages consumers in three ways: content-driven, experience-driven and network-driven.
While brands are at different stages of embracing social commerce, the company notes consumers are also still showing concern for making purchases through social media — making trust the biggest barrier to adoption.
“Those who have yet to use social commerce say one reason they are held back is their lack of trust in the authenticity of social sellers, while active social commerce users point to poor policies on returns, refunds and exchanges as an area for improvement,” Wright said. “Trust is an issue that will take time to overcome, but the sellers who focus on these areas will be better positioned to grow market share.”
As social commerce continues to grow, Accenture said it will continue to research what consumers want from the shopping experience, the barriers to adoption and how retailers and brands should address these needs.