Two words will always quicken a marketer’s pulse: “Buy Now.”
In the past, “Buy Now” features have been tightly aligned to ecommerce and mcommerce. More recently, smart marketers have found ways to use similar call-to-actions like “pick up in-store” to drive shoppers to brick-and-mortar locations, connecting digital to physical.
Social networks have become an increasingly important channel to communicate and drive these actions. A Nielsen study found that 92 percent of consumers trust the word-of-mouth recommendations like those found in social above any other advertising. Additionally, social helps drive 36 percent of the money spent in retail locations and drives in-store purchases as frequently as online purchases.
But while social continues to be a valuable asset to brands and retailers, the opportunities to close a sale instantly have been somewhat limited. Rather than “Buy Now,” the reality on social has been more about exposure followed by “buy in a few minutes,” either online or once shoppers go to a nearby store. That’s about to change when “Buy Now” arrives in social.
The social giants are serious about “Buy Now.”
Consumer engagement with brands on social is high and the in-store results are real, but the potential for even greater revenue exists with “Buy Now” features. Because of this, Facebook and Twitter are making major moves to enhance their platforms and empower their users to make purchases without ever leaving their sites.
Recently, Facebook began testing a new feature designed to allow customers to make purchases directly from their news feed. “With this step, Facebook is becoming even more firmly established as a major player in direct response advertising,” says eMarketer analyst Debra Aho. Additionally, in July, Twitter announced the acquisition of CardSpring, a platform that allows businesses to link coupons, special offers and loyalty programs to credit and debit cards.
Where these projects lead will shake up the way brands and retailers do business in social, helping them achieve better online and offline sales. In the very near future, brands could use a “Buy Now” option not only to connect to an ecommerce site, but create easier and quicker brick-and-mortar fulfillment experiences like pick-up in-store options without any checkout time for busy shoppers.
“Buy Now” in social will supercharge mobile.
While mcommerce remains a smaller slice of the retail sales pie, growth is happening quickly. By 2018, eMarketer predicts $132.69 billion in retail mcommerce spending, up — way up— from $57.79 billion projected for this year.
A “Buy Now” feature in social will only drive these numbers higher. This is because shoppers are highly engaged to their social media networks through mobile. ComScore found that 55 percent of social network consumption occurs on mobile. Additionally, 30 percent of Facebook users are now exclusively mobile. And remember: 62 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue now comes from advertising on mobile devices. These numbers speak not only to the incredible reach of mobile, but the need for marketers to enable better shopping experiences there. “Buy Now” in mobile social will mean more exposure points to call shoppers to action and increase online and offline purchases.
Brands must be as ready for “Buy Now” as their consumers.
As Tim Dunn noted in Advertising Age, “Consumers are now more than ever breaking down the distinction between content and commerce.” After commenting on a friend’s status, customers won’t be taken aback when served an ad for the product mentioned in their conversation and will be delighted by features like “Buy Now” that streamline the purchasing process. Brands should prepare to enable this sort of convenient and engaging experience before it become an expectation.
To do so, retailers will need to track inventory in real-time to make sure they deliver against fulfillment expectations — whether it’s shipping products purchased online or meeting the expectations of in-store pick-up. Collaborating now across departmental lines will help them prepare.
Additionally, for marketers to cash-in, they should mine existing consumer data in order to better target consumers once the feature goes live. Using hyperlocal targeting and customer attributes (behavioral data, interests, etc.) could mean more foot traffic to store locations because the increased relevance will further incentivize consumers to click “Buy Now.” (It has already worked for Target’s Cartwheel app.)
Marketers should also not worry about over-commodifying social if they do it correctly. Glenn Gow, a marketing strategist and author of Revenue and the CMO, believes using social media as a tool for selling will allow marketers to shine. “This is really about how to step into the new world of Big Data and social selling in a way that creates true revenue, that supports the sales organization so they can be much more effective,” he says.
Integrating “Buy Now” achieves those goals. But more importantly, it serves the customer correctly as it arises from their growing expectations for a seamless buying process, relevant and personalized offers, and instant gratification.