For several years now, social media has been changing the rules of the game in the e-commerce sector. The trend continues with subsequent updates of the largest websites, and the market reacts to the changing reality on an ongoing basis. What is hidden under the mysterious slogans of social selling and social commerce?
Both slogans are so similar that they are often treated synonymously, but social commerce is undeniably a broader concept. In Should Firms Invest in Social Commerce? An Integrative Perspective by, among others Hugo K.S. Lama and Andy C.L.Yeung, researchers point out that the essence of this approach is the use of social media channels for online transactions. Social selling, in turn, is only to help improve the entire process by building a credible brand.
The career of social commerce began in 2005, when Yahoo! the enigmatic concept of selling with the use of social media appeared then. Back then, there was no talk of dedicated marketplaces, which are already gaining popularity comparable to large corporations such as Amazon or eBay. About the features of social selling, which would support social commerce, wrote at that time, among others Steve Rubel, American PR specialist. In his opinion, the key to effective e-commerce is to use the knowledge and authority of researchers, analysts or the producers of a given production.
Despite the considerable age of Rubel’s thoughts (he published his forecasts in 2006), building trust among customers, based on the use of authorities, is also successfully used by contemporary players on the social commerce and e-commerce market. Some in their conclusions go even a step further — the future is not an online store, as a good in itself. The website does not bring more value without social selling tools, i.e. continuous work to contact a potential customer through social media, but also dedicated platforms.
Is the online store itself not enough? Also not. Onsite social commerce activities, i.e. processes within the website, were developed by the team of the American Zazzle (encouraging customers to publish their purchases on the platform), the Macy’s department store (giving the opportunity to publish surveys that would help in searching for the desired product in a maze of physical alleys) or Fab.com (by introducing a banner showing other customers’ purchases in real time). That’s it — before the social media era. In this category, Facebook was mainly mixed up.
A new dimension of commerce, i.e. f-commerce
A breakthrough for the social commerce niche was the introduction of the Facebook Open Graph protocol. The inconspicuous code, which originally had to be entered in the head of the website, made it possible to quickly integrate the content with social media. In a word — an entry whether the offer on the store could be made available from the website (now the “Like!” Icon is a standard not only in the case of Facebook). This move expanded Facebook’s functionality and was the foundation of another milestone — Facebook Marketplace.
A special space as part of the medium for the sale or exchange of products debuted in the USA, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, and a moment later — in 2017 — also on the Polish market. Facebook does not support deliveries, but “rents” a place to put your own offer. It was thought that the dissolution of the American concern would be the beginning of the end of Polish marketplaces, but so far all players are going head to head.