Trade

the issues and challenges for brands in 2022

We interviewed Adrien Dufrene, director of retail, e-commerce, travel and cosmetics sales at Netino By Webhelp, an agency specializing in the “social user experience” and expert in content moderation on social networks and on the web. He explains to us why social commerce is booming but also what are the expectations of consumers, and the consequences that this has on brands.

In concrete terms, what does the term “social commerce” mean?

In my opinion, social commerce is the extension of the one-to-one sales experience (that of the real world with a seller and a customer) applied to the digital world. Unlike traditional commerce, the experience is enriched through the opinions of other consumers but also through access to discussions around the actual use of the product or service. The multiple possibilities of acquiring the same product from different retailers also create greater competitiveness around the offer. This is a great step forward for the consumer!

How to explain the emergence and success of social commerce? What are consumers’ expectations on social networks now?

It is a logical continuation of the evolution of the web service offer. Would you now imagine a product unavailable for purchase online?

We have even seen the phenomenon in traditional retail for a few years now. Consumers who are in a physical store will check reviews on the web, and compare in-store prices with online prices via their phone. This forces traditional networks to align their physical offers with digital or to offer an additional service justifying the price “gap”.

Consumers on social media (in the broad sense of the term, i.e. social networks, online communities, participatory web, etc.) expect greater transparency on the real capabilities of the product or on its selling price , with price comparators in particular. It is moreover this phenomenon which has contributed to “killing off” traditional sales. A site like Dealabs is the perfect example.

Competition is sometimes such on certain product ranges that a simple lack of information in a product sheet can lead the consumer (nomadic by nature) to go and buy from another e-merchant who will have better completed the information or will have ahead of consumer opinions or questions.

In short, consumers are more demanding because there is more choice, they want to pay the right price, and now have the means to compare. Which was not the case 15 years ago, when a buyer looked for a product in a store, he was limited by the retailer’s offer and the skill of the seller he had in front of him. The immediate availability of the product is therefore also mandatory.

We also note the possibility for brands to complete the traditional offer of retailers with D2C (Direct to Consumer) which is another real evolution of the market. The brands of the L’Oréal or Adidas group are perfect examples, in particular with the implementation of direct sales to consumers via Instagram or dedicated sites.

How are the main social platforms evolving on this subject? What features are in place to promote sales?

Social platforms have had to adapt to new market demands. As such, the period of confinement has accelerated the change by pushing a whole section of the population not initiated into this type of behavior to find an operation that must be intuitive.

We note in particular that there are certain sales “booster” items such as positive feedback from consumers available online, reviews, or even photos/videos of these products.

The platforms must offer an accessible communication space before the act of purchase to an audience that will be looking for feedback, but also communication spaces with the brand.

For brands, this constitutes a positioning challenge between encouraging its community of influencers to communicate in a positive way and speaking out (sometimes risky) with modern codes.

Listening and engagement software publishers now offer real possibilities for brands that are reaching maturity on these subjects. Netino By Webhelp, for example, offers its expertise in social listening to help brands listen to their customers and better manage their e-reputation.

Are brands fully exploiting the levers linked to social commerce or is there still a lack of maturity in this area?

Everyone plays with their weapons, we see in some players a real desire to adapt to these new communication codes, because their core target is already very digitized, for others it is slower.

We see in some people getting used to the new features, before and after purchase. Purchases (in 3 clicks) mainly via Instagram or Facebook, which is a major innovation and promotes impulse buying, as one would have done in front of a well-arranged corner on an unplanned purchase. Watching, responding to and taking care of their opinions is also a major challenge for a brand because now everything is public.

We often hear that “retail is dead”, I think on the contrary that it is living a new golden age but in a digital way, and that we are witnessing a transformation of the act of purchase which mixes physical and digital. This reshuffles the cards and benefits players (brands or retailers) who have the most innovative marketing departments and are willing to take risks.

It should not be forgotten that sometimes the infrastructure to be deployed is heavy and that some start from afar. The reluctance of some CODIRs to understand these new sales methods, and more generally the digitization of processes, plays a big role in the delay of some players. Catching up therefore starts with top management for brands, it is a political and strategic will, and most brands that have recruited very “digital” profiles to key positions do not regret it.

Has live shopping become a real trend?

The codes that we are beginning to adopt in the Western world are already very common in Asia, however we note that live shopping sessions are already finding their audience here. Once again, you have to try (and possibly fail), and surround yourself with specialists if necessary. It should be noted that Carrefour and Groupe Seb successfully completed the exercise.

Social commerce: a winning strategy to seduce Gen Z?

It’s tempting to think this is only for Gen-Z, in reality they already have the codes so it’s a no-brainer for them. But they are not yet the generation with the strongest purchasing power, so a sales strategy for “multigenerational” products must take this into account.

The objective is to be much broader and to offer an intuitive experience for other generations, respecting their codes and their needs while ensuring that everyone finds their bearings.

In your opinion, what are the best practices to adopt to develop your business on social networks?

Among the best practices to adopt:

  • take care of your image,
  • To offer its community of faithful recognition,
  • Take into account the opinions or comments that come back publicly from your audience,
  • Do not hesitate to try to innovate.

In addition, here are some basics that are important to remember:

  • Listen to its community of customers and loyal customers, and try to communicate according to their expectations,
  • Respond to its customers and when a comment is negative, show that you take it into consideration,
  • Do everything possible to create contact before the act of purchase and highlight successful experiences with its products,
  • Use the codes of the new networks to speak as a brand, and opt for maximum personalization to respond to your audience,
  • Consult specialists to save time.

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