Succeeding in an era of social commerce

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The ecommerce world is changing with social commerce becoming mainstream. Today, Dan Edelman, Vice President & UK General Manager, Merchant Services at American Express, takes a look at how to succeed in an era of social commerce:

Keeping up with Generation Z: Succeeding in an era of social commerce

Ecommerce experiences are increasingly becoming benchmarks for brand differentiation. Innovation in this space is fuelled by changing consumer trends – and social commerce is at the forefront. For example, ‘live-commerce’, enabling live stream audiences to buy products being promoted directly through a specific platform, is the latest ‘social shopping’ feature gaining traction among consumers. Unsurprisingly, it is Gen Z leading the way.

Recent American Express research found that about a fifth (19%) of 18-24 year olds frequently click shopping ads on social media, validating market predictions of a 37.5% year on year growth in the UK of the social commerce industry. With the retail landscape more competitive than ever, it’s important that merchants keep pace and, in turn, meet the expectations of this digital-first generation.

Offering value and convenience, providing a seamless checkout experience, and responding to the evolving demands of this key group of shoppers is vital as Gen Z continue to spearhead new trends. Here’s what merchants need to know:

Convenience is King

With budgets being squeezed, it’s no surprise that shoppers are looking for value at every turn, but this stretches far beyond the price tag. Our research found that six in 10 (59%) 18-24 years olds said that convenience was a number one priority when shopping, with two thirds (66%) valuing businesses that accommodate last minute purchases and quick delivery.

Merchants will benefit from putting themselves in their customers shoes – what they want above all is a simple, convenient and, as far as can be possible, enjoyable shopping experience. With purchasing decisions being scrutinised more than ever before, losing focus on customer experience could see their products and services fall down the shopping list.

Whether it be for those looking for a higher end product as a one-off treat, or value brands being subbed in for the usual favourites – merchants large and small need to look at how they can take their customer experience to the next level. Gen Zers are choosing carefully, so faster delivery times, user friendly websites and slicker checkout processes are all vital nowadays.

A frictionless journey

A seamless customer journey applies from start to finish. Developments in social commerce, highlighted by the rise of live commerce, demonstrate that checkout experience is no exception, and merchants must focus on getting this right if they want customers to spend and stay loyal. Our research found that about three fifths (59%) of 18-24 year olds would abandon their basket if unable to use their preferred method of payment – showing that younger consumers continue to demonstrate little tolerance for friction at checkout. What’s more, with over four in 10 (42%) not wanting to enter payment details at all at checkout, requiring them to do so puts a further obstacle in their path.

Understanding customer needs

If there’s one takeaway from live commerce’s march towards the spotlight it’s that innovation in retail is a constant. We know that Gen Z is a fast moving and fickle customer cohort when it comes to their shopping habits. Whether it’s the seven in 10 (72%) surveyed that regard a brand’s social values as important, or the three quarters (73%) demanding loyalty rewards and points from the merchants they choose to shop with – understanding your customers wants and needs is more important today than ever in the battle for loyalty.

Merchants who can use customer data and insight to help flex their strategy as this dynamic demographic gravitates towards new innovations, will ultimately reap the rewards.

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