From Likes to Buys: How Social Commerce is Shaping Retail Habits



Social media and ecommerce are two of the biggest forces shaping today’s retail landscape, and as they continue evolving at pace, they are becoming increasingly intertwined. It’s a trend being driven by several factors, including social media’s popularity, increased usage of mobile devices for shopping, and the changing preferences of consumers, specifically younger generations like Gen Z.

Although shopping on social media platforms is still a fairly new concept, many consumers are looking to social media to do just that. Popular social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram offer in-app purchasing, with Facebook being the most popular platform for consumers. While WhatsApp, owned by Meta, doesn’t yet offer direct shopping, users can request product purchases from brands via direct messaging. Consumers were once able to purchase products directly through Pinterest until recently, when the platform pivoted to Product Pins that, when clicked, bring the user directly to the brand’s website to purchase.

It’s predicted that shopping on social media will grow 3x as fast as ecommerce, reaching $1.2 trillion globally by 2025. This is no surprise, given that 98% of consumers plan to use social media to make a purchase this year. Social commerce goes beyond clothing and gift shopping, too. In the UK, 23% of Millennials and 22% of Gen Z were influenced by social media when purchasing groceries. And once a product is purchased, consumers take to social media to leave reviews. In 2023, 64% of American Gen Zers said they’re likely to post about brands or products on social media – a 10% increase from 2019. And it’s not just the younger generations looking to social for shopping or reviews either; 57% of German Baby Boomers bought an item directly from a social media platform in 2022 – more than Gen Z and Gen X.

What does this mean for brands?

  1. Social commerce will continue to grow. Although still in its infancy, social commerce allows users to purchase products directly from social media platforms, and studies show that it is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.
  2. Brands must have a strong social media presence. To reach and engage consumers, brands must invest in their social media platforms. This means creating high-quality content, interacting with consumers and running paid advertisements on social media. In fact, 49% of consumers discover products through targeted social media ads.
  3. Social media and ecommerce will continue to overlap. Integrating social media channels and ecommerce channels is smart. We’ll likely continue to see more features that allow users to browse products, compare prices, and purchase directly from social media.

While social media is becoming the preferred way for consumers to shop, it has some roadblocks. Growing concerns about data privacy could lead to changes in how social media platforms collect and use data, making it more difficult for brands to offer personalization when users now come to expect it. Regardless, the future of social media and ecommerce is full of possibilities. By embracing these trends, brands can stay ahead of the curve and innovatively reach new customers.