Seven crucial questions about social commerce – and the answers your business needs

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Caught up in the buzz that is social commerce, but unsure of how it works for you in practical terms? Being bombarded with techno-speak like platforms, plugins and social capital can be daunting, particularly for SMEs. But don’t get discouraged, because social commerce can be a boon for small businesses – a way for your brand to stand side by side with the big brands, in a cost-effective way. Ask yourself these 7 key questions in order to make the phenomenon of social commerce work for you:

Are you user-friendly? Is your online experience the equivalent of a plush boutique, brimming with helpful assistants bringing advice, cups of tea and a comfy sofa for when shopping just gets too tiring? Or is it a packed and bleak generic shop, everything thrown about in no real order and with people only interested in ringing up the cash? The better you design your online experience, the happier your customers will be to return.

Do you take the time to chat? Remember the ‘good old days’ when the local butcher knew who your sister was dating before she did, and the newsagent would remind you to buy a birthday card for your gran? Social commerce is bringing this back. You’re not interacting with people in the clinical white wilderness of a Tesco Extra – you exist with them in one of their most personal spaces. Social networking is about authenticity, not superficial sales. Talk to them in the same way they chat with their friends.

Do you give as well as sell? Just because you’re not face-to-face, doesn’t mean service doesn’t count. Remember you are not only catering to your customer, but to a host of other potential customers in their extended network of friends and contacts. Social commerce is the essence of relationship marketing – use it.

Are you selling strategically? Still trying to sell suncream to Icelanders in November? Or getting 13 year old boys interested in silk floral curtains? You shouldn’t be – a whole host of tools, such as Facebook Insights, allow you to tailor your activity to your target audience, and the power to give them what they want, when they want it, how they want it – and know why they want it.

Are you treating your VIPs well? Of course, every customer should be a VIP, but while you’re encouraging the move to social commerce, it pays to throw in sweeteners for those dipping their toe in. From exclusive discounts and products to ‘group buy’ incentives for their friends, there are many ways to effectively entice your customers inside your virtual store.

Are you embracing technology? We know those Terminators are scary, but time to get over it. With one-stop-shop platform packages like Gloople, which incorporates mobile platforms, group-buy deals and smart phone applications to produce a comprehensive, fully integrated social commerce experience for you and your customers, you can realise the benefits of social commerce at your leisure.

Are your ears burning? Done right, social commerce has just that effect. Customers tell their friends about you, their friends shop with you too, their friends have the same idea…Perhaps the most powerful aspect of social commerce – especially for local businesses – is the way it builds relationships, generating trust through word of mouth. One customer on Facebook is a direct link to, on average, 150 customers, which begs the question: if you’re not on board yet, why?


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