Social Commerce for your DTC Apparel Brand

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May 31, 2023

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9 min read

The retail landscape has undergone a transformative shift, and direct-to-consumer brands are at the forefront of this revolution. These brands have revolutionized the traditional business model by embracing social commerce, a powerful tool that offers consumers unparalleled control over their shopping journey. By bypassing intermediaries, streamlining the buying process, and leveraging the vast potential of social media, DTC apparel brands are redefining how consumers discover, engage with, and purchase products.

As a result, social commerce has become a crucial aspect of DTC strategies, enabling brands to establish direct interactions with their target audience at any time and leverage valuable insights to create stronger, more tailored channels.

In an age where 74% of consumers turn to social networks for purchase guidance, owning the sales channel has become imperative. Social media platforms have recognized this paradigm shift, vying to become the go-to destination for consumers looking to make informed buying decisions. Recent data reveals that a staggering 98% of customers intend to utilize social purchasing for at least one purchase this year, indicating a significant increase from previous years. It is evident that social media channels are positioning themselves to capture a larger share of the market, and this upward trend shows no signs of slowing down.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the realm of social commerce and explore its critical significance for DTC apparel brands. We will unravel the transformative potential of this burgeoning trend, highlighting its ability to empower consumers, streamline the buying process, and propel brands to new heights.

Social Commerce, Social Shopping, and DTC

Social shopping, a hybrid of eCommerce and social media, has emerged as a result of the changing landscape of retail. By seamlessly integrating retail channels with social media profiles and followers’ feeds, social shopping provides a unique opportunity for consumers to discover new products, explore emerging brands, and make purchases without ever leaving their social feeds. This convergence of online shopping and social interaction is proving to be wildly profitable, with social commerce generating a remarkable $475 billion in sales in 2020. According to industry experts, this figure is projected to skyrocket to a staggering $3.37 trillion by 2028, exhibiting an annual growth rate of 28.4%.

For DTC apparel brands, social commerce is an instrumental element in their quest for success. These brands understand the importance of fostering direct connections with their audience, and social media platforms serve as a pivotal factor in achieving that objective. By embracing shoppable posts, on-site storefronts, and innovative features, DTC brands are harnessing the power of social commerce to enhance customer engagement, drive sales, and forge long-lasting relationships.

Social Commerce and Customer Behavior

Emerging as the predominant buyer segment, millennials exert an increasingly influential impact on the market. A key aspect characterizing these evolving consumers is their desire for personalized shopping experiences and tailored product recommendations. Their curiosity extends beyond product utility, as they actively seek insights into how others employ various products and services. Real-life encounters and the opinions of genuine individuals hold greater sway over their decision-making processes than brand-generated content.

Crucially, 77% of shoppers exhibit a higher inclination to make purchases from brands that effectively personalize their shopping experiences. It is evident that change permeates the landscape for brands and retailers, necessitating a profound understanding of and adaptation to the evolving preferences and behaviors of this connected and discerning consumer base.

Why Does Social Commerce Work For Fashion Brands?

According to Statista, the number of social buyers in the United States alone reached a staggering 80 million in 2020, marking a notable 30% increase compared to the previous year. Experts suggest that the social commerce trend would have continued its growth trajectory even without the pandemic; however, COVID-19 acted as a catalyst, accelerating its expansion.

In terms of monetary value, these consumers collectively spent around $27 billion throughout 2020. Retail experts predict that social commerce sales will witness a further surge of over 35% in 2021, surpassing $36 billion in consumer expenditure.

Projections for the future paint an even more remarkable picture, with social commerce sales in the United States, expected to reach nearly $80 billion by 2025.

The pandemic-induced spike in these numbers can be attributed to a significant shift in consumer behavior. Notably, consumers have become increasingly reliant on digital platforms, as highlighted by PWC’s research, which revealed that over 50% of surveyed consumers reported a heightened digital engagement.

Furthermore, the popularity of smartphone shopping has been steadily rising, outpacing in-store shopping since March 2021 by a two-percentage-point margin. Establishing a robust presence on social media platforms has proven to be a key driver of sales. Stores that maintain at least one social media account experience an average increase of 32% in sales compared to those that do not leverage social media channels.

Social media platforms have also emerged as the go-to destination for product reviews, with a remarkable 84% of online buyers in the United States consulting these platforms before making a purchase decision. When it comes to discovering new brands and products, the younger demographic, specifically Generation Z, heavily relies on Instagram. Being a mobile-first generation, Gen Z utilizes Instagram as their primary channel for exploration, with a recent report from digital and creative agency Composed indicating that 60% of U.S. Gen Z shoppers utilize the platform for this purpose.

While it is evident that capitalizing on the social media trend is crucial for the growth of e-commerce fashion brands, it is essential to know where to begin in order to navigate this landscape successfully and that is what we will break down for you!

What Works in DTC and Social Commerce?

  • Your Audience and Social Media: Your Audience and Social Media Consumers utilize social media platforms in a manner akin to their use of search engines, employing channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit as integral components of their purchasing journey. These platforms serve as valuable sources of information, allowing individuals to delve deeper into companies and products as part of their decision-making process. Moreover, social networks enable users to explore recommendations from their own networks, guiding them towards relevant offerings. In this manner, social media plays a pivotal role in connecting shoppers with their desired products and services.

    Over time, social media has transformed into a virtual marketplace, where users can engage with friends, brands, and creators, resembling the experience of perusing merchandise in a conventional store. Just as the likelihood of making a purchase increases with more time spent browsing in a physical setting, extended periods of interaction on social media platforms similarly enhance the chances of conversion.

    Customers tend to gravitate towards platforms they are already familiar with and comfortable using. Millennials and Generation Z, for instance, exhibit a preference for visually-oriented networks like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. In contrast, Baby Boomers are anticipated to favor Facebook as their platform of choice. Women seek inspiration and ideas on TikTok and Pinterest, while men turn to Twitter and Twitch for their next potential acquisitions.

    Apart from the prominent platforms, there exist other social buying sites such as Kaboodle and ShopStyle, which provide users with the ability to curate personal style boards, compile product lists, and engage in blogging. Much like the experience of shopping together in a physical store, these platforms facilitate product reviews and direct recommendations among friends and social connections.

    Your platform of choice should depend on the target audience of your product/service. It is important that you invest your energy and resources in a directive manner.

  • The Recent (and Relevant)Trends:Present-day consumers display a keen interest in exploring novel features offered by social media platforms. Their diverse connections and interactions provide valuable insights to businesses regarding brand discovery and purchasing patterns. Among various tools for social media targeting, livestreams have gained exceptional popularity. A notable 71% of viewers engaging with livestreams have made purchases through social media, with 48% expressing a desire to utilize in-platform commerce tools for future transactions.

    Looking ahead to 2023, a significant portion of customers, approximately 45%, will prefer to make purchases directly through their favorite social media platforms. However, these customers also expect a more streamlined and efficient experience. While Gen Z emerges as the demographic most likely to embrace this functionality, with 52% expressing eagerness to engage in social media commerce, overall expectations encompass faster browsing and seamless purchasing processes.

    Moreover, as the metaverse continues to gain prominence, consumers can anticipate the integration of virtual or augmented reality-powered shopping carts in the near future. However, the extent to which customers embrace this trend largely depends on their generational affiliation. Older customers are generally less inclined to adopt these advancements, while early adopters exhibit a willingness to pay a premium for such immersive experiences. Notably, over 80% of consumers who regularly engage with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies have already embraced social shopping, indicating their receptiveness to innovative approaches.

  • Understand Influence:When making purchases on social media, 49% of buyers are influenced by targeted ads, while 4 out of 10 users are swayed by a brand’s organic content. Some individuals (34%) seek recommendations from friends’ posts or browse multiple social sites (34%) before making a decision.

    Throughout the purchasing process on social media, customers continue to rely on various influences:

    • Friends
    • Product comments, remarks, and reviews
    • Brand familiarity
    • Recommendations from significant others

    Among those aged 18 to 40, friends play the most crucial role in their purchasing decisions, followed by social media influencers. Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen X have developed increased trust in influencers, comparable to their trust in friends, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Baby Boomers, who are less influenced by Millennials, place greater trust in their significant others and friends.

    Trust plays a vital role in convincing individuals to purchase a specific product or service. Therefore, crowdsourced feedback or product reviews from strangers have the least influence on someone’s buying decisions.

Consumer’s Psychology

  • The Recent (and Relevant)Trends

One aspect of social shopping is the utilization of social proof and heuristic thinking. Consumers often observe what others are buying or have bought and take their lead from them. This is because people tend to view popular or dominant choices as the best and most valid options. It is a classic example of the power of peer influence. Social shopping features employ social evidence to encourage heuristic thinking in purchasing decisions. These features include Pick Lists, which provide insights into what people want and value, and Popularity Lists that showcase the most popular or remarkable products. Additionally, the Share Your Story tool allows consumers to offer human-interest testimonials or reviews, further influencing others’ decisions.

  • Follow the Leader

Another psychological aspect of social shopping is the reliance on expert opinions and authority figures. Consumers have a natural tendency to trust the judgments of experts, regardless of what they say. This trust in expertise saves time and energy for users by relying on the knowledge and experience shared by authoritative individuals. Social shopping features take advantage of this tendency by incorporating Expert Reviews, which provide insights from niche leaders and industry experts. Referral-Generating Programs also play a role, as recommendations from trusted individuals within the community carry significant weight in the decision-making process.

  • Follow Those You Like

People often feel inclined to emulate and agree with individuals they like, admire, or find attractive. This tendency contributes to building social bonds and trust, as it is part of managing our image and identity through association. Social shopping features leverage this aspect by offering Influencer’s Lists, showcasing the favorite brands, products, or services of influential individuals. Referral Programs create private shopping events or exclusive live-stream portals that are trusted by the social community. Additionally, Group Shopping features enable users to co-browse online stores together, allowing them to become influenced by the preferences of people they like and trust.

In Conclusion

Having a social commerce strategy in place is the current of doing business. To optimize yours, partner with Saffron Edge, a leading digital marketing agency with expertise in social media marketing and e-commerce. Contact us today to take your social shopping initiatives to new heights.

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