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Mayank Trivedi - Senior Product Marketing Manager, Emplifi

Social commerce: How can brands turn challenges into opportunities in 2022?

Social commerce is delivering results for B2C brands. A recent Forrester Consulting Study commissioned by Emplifi finds that 86% of brands expect or have achieved a return on their investment in only a year. With revenues from social commerce growing, most brands are now selling via more than one social shop.

At the same time, brands face multiple challenges to scaling and continued growth, including struggles with engagement and the complexity of managing social commerce across multiple channels. We also examined the importance of having a strong social customer care foundation in place to achieve long-term social commerce success.

But these challenges also point toward new opportunities, as brands can transform weaknesses into strengths by adding new social commerce capabilities. Forrester's 2021 study, Cashing in on Social Commerce, provides insight into the steps your brand can take toward this goal.

Where are the opportunities to grow with social commerce?

Based on a survey of corporate decision-makers, the report shows where B2C brands see the greatest challenges to their growth. By building the capacity to excel in these areas, your brand can set itself apart from the competition and become a true social commerce leader.

First, consumer engagement is a major concern for brands, as 47% report that they struggle to convert followers into customers, according to Forrester's data. This challenge may reflect an underlying mismatch between their goals and their current abilities. Only 2%, for example, say they have the capabilities and tools to nurture customers through the social purchase journey.

If we look closely at the other top challenges faced by brands, they all point to one deeper challenge: the need to manage social commerce across multiple platforms at the same time.

  • Inventory: 52% of brands have problems managing and/or optimizing inventory across social channels.

  • Engagement: 47% of brands struggle to convert followers into customers.

  • Technology: 46% say IT is overloaded and fails to support when it comes to scaling across multiple social channels. In addition, 43% find technical integration difficult because every channel has its own requirements.

  • Content: 45% of brands find it difficult to refresh their content across multiple social channels.

  • Measurement: 42% have only a limited ability to measure performance across multiple social media channels.

The good news is that solutions exist to solve these challenges—and brands that succeed will gain a competitive edge. If they create the right capabilities, their social commerce programs can enter a new stage of sustained, long-term growth.

How brands can accelerate growth

What tools and technologies are most essential for taking advantage of these opportunities? In Forrester's study, B2C brands were asked to rank five specific capabilities as the most important ways to accelerate the buying and selling process. Over 40% of brands agreed that each of the following would help them do this:

As these results reveal, social customer care is emerging as a key strategy for brands to improve the performance of social commerce campaigns. Brands see the need to respond to customer queries on demand, both during and after the purchase, and to ensure customers can seamlessly access help with more complex problems at any time. At the same time, brands need better visibility into their operations across multiple shops and channels, so they can efficiently measure outcomes and satisfy shoppers' demands.

To achieve these goals, brands need to invest in certain technical capabilities. Continuous, 24/7 service and support require chatbots that can autonomously respond to customer queries without the need for an agent. These chatbots need to incorporate advanced conversational AI, so they can provide sophisticated support during and after the purchase and recognize when a human agent needs to step in. In addition, brands need integrated social commerce systems that can unify data from all their social channels and provide a holistic view of inventory and performance.

With such tools, B2C brands can create efficient and profitable social commerce operations, converting followers into customers across multiple social profiles and stores. However, it's complicated and inefficient to manage all these capabilities through separate systems and applications. What brands need is a single, comprehensive solution that brings all of them together.

The tools you need to scale

As you scale your social commerce operations, you're likely to encounter challenges with engagement, inventory management, performance measurement, and more. Social commerce platforms, with tools to manage inventory and CX across multiple platforms, will be the key to keeping customers satisfied and your revenues growing.

To learn more about today's social commerce challenges and opportunities, download the October 2021 Emplifi-commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, Cashing in on Social Commerce.

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