While social shopping may be the trend to watch out for in 2017, many South Africans might not know what exactly it means, and hence not know how to capitalize on it. With eCommerce rising rapidly in South Africa, and expected to grow to over R53 billion by 2018 according to Finance24, it’s time to hop onto the social bandwagon and use the wold’s most popular online tools to help you sell your products.

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So what exactly is social shopping? While it’s been around for a few years it is evolving slightly to make the lives of eCommerce store owners and their customers easier. Essentially, social shopping is the use of social media to direct customers to a direct buy.  The combination of social images, shares, likes, comments, groups, reviews and eCommerce, is used to pursue the buying or selling of products. Initially, this started out with brands simply pushing through basic social posts, and directing their customers straight to the product page on their website to buy it.

Today, entrepreneurs have cottoned on to the great influence social media has, and the trust that customers place on the information shared by stores and other consumers on various social channels. According to Bart Mroz, CEO of SUMO Heavy 

Social media already influences consumer behavior, but in 2017 it will become a bigger driver of direct transactions.

So how is social shopping changing? Well instead of just directing customers to your particular product pages on your website, Facebook and Pinterest are slowly rolling out a ‘buy it’ button, allowing shoppers to buy directly from the social page without having to leave the page at all. While these changes are only open to businesses in the US, they might make their way to Southern Africa if they are successful.

So now that we know what social shopping is, what can you do as an eCommerce store owner to take advantage of the various social channels at your disposal?

Add Links To Product Adverts

If you’ve recently launched a new product, or want to get a specific range of products seen, ensure that when you create a post, whether on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you include the link to the specific product page. A customer interested in your product will soon lose interest in pursuing it if you haven’t given them the link to it and they have to go searching for it themselves. This will improve your chances of making the conversion. Once a customer has clicked through to your site and is ready to pay, ensure that they have a safe and reliable payment gateway available to them to perform the transaction. PayU, for example, offers such a solution, for a variety of payment methods.

Add The Shop Section To Your Business Facebook Page

Not only can you place a traditional post about your products, but you can also include a ‘shop’ tab on your Facebook business page. This allows you to present your store on Facebook simply by enabling the feature on Facebook. Products are presented to customers with images, prices, and links to the products on your website. Customers will then able to look through your offerings during their daily social media browse.

While South Africa has yet to receive the ‘buy it’ button, social shopping is still a valuable tool to ensure your brand is seen and readily available to consumers. South Africans spend an average time of two hours and 43 minutes on social per day, so investing in your social media channels is never a wasted exercise.

This article was created in collaboration with the online payment gateway experts at PayU.

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