2015 so far has been a stellar year for the social networking giants, in terms of releasing action oriented product features. This year social networks from Facebook to Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, everyone is moving out of the mould of only engagement. Convincing advertisers and users that even commerce can happen on their platform is the new mantra.
Listed below are various ways in which popular social networks are enabling commerce on their platforms.
The search giant that had a stellar Q2 2015 earnings, recently launched “Purchase On Google” buttons in mobile ads.
At the recent Code Conference Google’s chief business officer Omid Kordestani had shared onstage that Google’s next commerce effort will be a “buy button” to help people purchase products featured in its shopping ads. Earlier this week Google officially rolled out the same feature under the name of Purchases on Google, which will make it easier for consumers to buy products directly from mobile search ads.
Google informed that when a shopper searched on mobile for a product such as “women’s hoodies”, she may see a shopping ad with ‘Buy on Google’ text. After clicking the ad, she’s taken to a retailer-branded product page hosted by Google. Checkout is seamless, simple, and secure, thanks to saved payment credentials in her Google Account.
Additionally, Google is also working closely with a select group of global retailers including eBay, Flipkart and Zalando to add deep links to their apps right in their shopping ads, driving people straight to their mobile app instead of their website.
Advertisers are charged the same market-rate CPC for clicks on purchase-enabled ads as a regular PLA would in the same auction. There is no additional fee or commission associated with Purchases On Google ads.
However Google has made it clear that while it hosts the product page and provides purchase protection for customers, retailers will own the customer communication and can offer customers the option to receive marketing and promotional messages. Retailers will have control over their customer data for future communication and marketing efforts, not Google.
Facebook is giving social commerce a serious second try. In a recent development reported by BuzzFeed, the social network is testing a shopping experience that allows users to buy items directly from business’ Facebook pages. The company is building shops within Facebook Pages, essentially mini e-commerce sites that give businesses a chance to set up a second store within the walled garden of Facebook.
From product discovery to checkout, Facebook wants to handle the entire shopping experience just like Google wishes to do with “Purchases On Google”.
Giving more inputs about the feature, Facebook informed that on mobile, the shopping features will appear in a new “shopping” section on the page, as pictured in below image, while on desktop the shopping section will appear as a separate tab on the page in the same area where the Timeline, About, Photos and other tabs are currently located.
The shopping section will showcase products in a format that appears to be similar to the way photos are laid out. If someone wants to buy a product, retailers will have the choice whether the actual transaction will take place within Facebook or whether you’ll be redirected to the company’s website.
For retailers who would want to continue the shopping experience inside Facebook, the payment and checkout experience would be same like it happens for Buy Button – a feature Facebook had launched earlier last month with the goal to help businesses drive sales directly through Facebook via News Feed ads and Page posts without leaving Facebook.
This year Facebook owned photo and video sharing network Instagram has also shown interest in integrating commerce on its mobile network.
With more than 300 million people around the world on the network, Instagram recently introduced action-oriented advertisement for marketers.
The big change on the platform came in the form of “action-oriented” buttons that appear below an image. These buttons could be an option to buy a product, install an app or sign up for a service. These new buttons were built upon the multi-photo carousel ads that Instagram unveiled earlier this year.
While these are action oriented features, the workout happens in the app itself. For example if you want to purchase a product, on click a new mini browser would open up in the app to complete your action, so once you’re done buying or downloading you’ll be returned to Instagram.
Providing the ability to shop on Instagram isn’t a surprising move since over the time it had been working closely with a few influential brands to make shopping a one-click experience on its platform. For instance, Banana Republic was one of the retailer who could link to product pages from their Instagram ads.
Pinterest, the social bookmarking site which has 70 million monthly visitors, announced that it will very soon provide users the ability to buy products from inside of pinned items. Pinterest has confirmed that it will introduce Buyable Pins, the company announced at an event at its San Francisco headquarters Tuesday.
The buy pins that have been in the works for months, will be launching later this month. These buttons are blue in colour and sit next to the regular red pins. Users can search for buyable pins. For example, when a user types “jacket” into the search bar and clicks on the blue “see more” button at the top right corner, Pinterest will show a number of jacket options. If the user further clicks on the blue “$” sign, they will be able to enter a price limit by scrolling up and down. Once they set a maximum price, they will be able to swipe through all the jackets within the price range and pick up their favorite.
When a user is ready to check out they can pay with Apple Pay or a credit card, Pinterest will store the consumer’s credit card information for future transactions. Pinterest sends the data via an encrypted channel to what executives called a “vault,” where the merchants will the get the data from. Merchants will then let Pinterest know the transaction was made. Once the purchase has been made, users will be able to go back to searching and pinning their favorite items.
There are no fees for merchants or Pinterest users but the onus for returns will be on merchants, not Pinterest. Buyable Pins will be available to iPhone and iPad users later this month; it’s not clear when they will be available for Android and desktop users.
To begin with Pinterest is launching with 2 million items ready for purchase while joining hands with major retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, Michael’s, Jo Ann Fabric, as well as brands like Kate Spade, Cole Haan, among others.
Last year around September, Twitter made a big announcement that it is testing its first commerce product. Twitter said on its blog that for a small percentage of U.S. users (that will grow over time), some Tweets from the test partners will feature a “Buy” button, letting one buy directly from the Tweet.
Twitter’s intention is to build functionality in the platform to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy. Twitter promised that, “Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and can act on them right in the Twitter apps for Android and iOS; sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales.”
Twitter informed that after tapping the “Buy” button, you will get additional product details and be prompted to enter your shipping and payment information. Once that’s entered and confirmed, your order information is sent to the merchant for delivery.
The payment and shipping information is encrypted and safely stored after the first transaction. However users always have the choice to remove the details from the account.
However, there hasn’t been any new information from Twitter post this update.
Snapchat - the mobile video messaging app popular among the millennial generation wasn’t far behind in integrating commerce. To push eCommerce on its platform Snapchat partnered with ShopStyle, a fashion site owned by online network PopSugar, and five well-known fashion bloggers along with e-retailer FarFetch for a five-day test run that ended June 27.
Users who added the bloggers to their SnapChat contact list could view their stories and then follow a link to ShopStyle, where they were able to buy the items they had seen. “Influencers that have tremendous Instagram followings are gravitating toward Snapchat because it’s more casual,” said Melissa Davis, ShopStyle’s vp to DigiDay. “They can have more fun with Snapchat and engage with their audience.”
However, interested viewers had to exit Snapchat to visit the shop, since there were no live links on the app, which makes the experience a bit clunky since most of the social networks are integrating end to end process on their platform itself.