Taking E-Commerce to the Next Level
Posted on 2021 Dec,14  | By Anna Germanos

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Consumer preferences and behaviors are evolving faster than ever. We're witnessing a dramatic change in how shoppers use the internet. For years, people have used our apps to buy and sell things, from the early days of posting a photo of a bicycle with the caption “for sale,” to selling a coffee table on Marketplace. But now, people are discovering new products and shopping styles from their favorite brands and creators across our platforms. Today's modern-day customers want proactive service, personalized interactions, and connected experiences across digital channels.

In the past, people have traditionally gone online to find things they knew they wanted. However, if the pandemic has proved anything, it’s that shopping is no longer a functional task; it’s now a curated experience, with people going online with more interest than ever. “Going shopping” has become “always shopping”. We’ve gone from a utility mindset to a discovery mindset; from intent-based shopping to interest-based shopping – where people are looking to be inspired.

Have you come across a tempting product offer while scrolling through the news feed on Facebook or Instagram and have been tempted to buy them directly? This is no coincidence. This is Discovery Commerce - using Machine Learning, the system anticipates what people want before they know they want it, saving them from pinning their finite time against an infinite digital shelf of products.

Discovery Commerce is personalising the shopping experience on our platforms - connecting people to products and brands that align with their tastes, which they might never have come across otherwise. If e-commerce is about people looking for and purchasing products through a website, then with Discovery Commerce the products find people.

Collapse of the traditional shopping funnel

Discovery Commerce is opening up a world of serendipitous shopping which is happening more and more online after a year of lockdowns. According to a FB IQ research, more than 74% of people surveyed said they use Meta platforms to discover brands or products online, compared to 41% who said they discover new brands or products via the brand’s website. And a whopping 82% of people have said they now find new products on Meta platforms.

It is also collapsing the traditional purchasing funnel, customers can discover and buy products within seconds – meaning the new audiences businesses are able to connect with are more likely to make it through checkout. This behavioural shift is not unique to shopping. It’s happening in other sectors where there’s been an explosion of content and people welcome the experience of curated discovery, too.

For instance, with Netflix where its recommendation feature curates its titles according to what it’s learned about users’ viewing tastes or with Spotify - its Discovery Weekly engine predicts the tracks you might want to hear based on your history.

New technologies to power the future of shopping

Our apps are fast becoming a destination to buy and sell and we are building a modern commerce system to meet that demand across Shops, ads, community tools, messaging, and payments. Last year, when COVID-19 shut down local economies, we launched Shops to make it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram. Shops give businesses control over customization and merchandising to inspire their customers and help them find the products that are right for them.

We're also continuing to invest in forward-looking technologies that will be the foundation of the shopping experiences of tomorrow powered by AI, AR and live video.

At the Connect 2021 event in October, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta, it signalled brands to capitalise on the opportunity within the Metaverse for experimentation throughout 2021 as shopping and commerce will be key to this digital revolution. This is the next inspirational experience that consumers are looking forward to and some of them, already trying. The metaverse will remove many of the physical constraints we see in commerce today; it will enable a virtual marketplace where creators will be able to aid product design and create/sell more exclusive digital products.

What can brands do to maximise the new commerce shift

We’re seeing a transformative shift in the way we discover and buy. Armed with the power of artificial intelligence, and through collaborative curation and algorithms, the next stage for content and commerce is emerging.

People can now be made aware of something and purchase it in just a matter of seconds, without searching for a known brand or product. To maximise sales, brands need to ensure a seamless and frictionless experience, engaging with customers and taking them from product discovery to final purchase in five taps or less.

The most advanced marketers are seeing social commerce not just as the entry point to brand and product discovery, but as a way of driving customer retention and life value.

Turning onto new commerce means investing in four key areas for brands:

  • Personalise your campaigns through a strong media set-up and a signals-resilient strategy.
  • Inspire your audience with strong creative and consumer experiences; these could be delivered on Meta's engaging and dynamic surfaces, as well as leveraging the power of creators on our platforms.
  • It is imperative to look at conversion and retaining strategies by optimising the paths you create to serve people and your objectives.
  • Continuously learn and optimise, which is about leveraging tools to sharpen and evolve your marketing practices.