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Look to China for Solutions to Social Commerce Challenges

By Asa Mazor-Freedman | September 03, 2021 | 0 Comments

With the emergence of Instagram Shopping, Facebook Marketplace and the TikTok-Shopify partnership, social commerce has arrived. But it’s not without challenges.

Marketers face two broad categories of consumer pushback on their social commerce initiatives. First, consumers lack trust that their personal data privacy will be secured over this new channel. Second, consumers miss the level of detail they are accustomed to on e-commerce product pages, including reviews, user-generated content, ample product images and detailed descriptions (see Design Social Commerce Features That Convince Consumers to Buy).

China, with its more advanced social commerce ecosystem, offers perspectives for overcoming these challenges. Leading global brands in diverse categories build extensive commerce presences on China’s largest social platform, WeChat. These efforts provide consumers direct access to a curated assortment of products with ample product page information and compelling content.

In China, brands alleviate privacy concerns by creating an easy direct-to-consumer purchase experience. By developing and operating “mini program” stores within the WeChat ecosystem, brands offer a customized shopping experience without making consumers exit the app or disrupting their social media experience. Mini program stores typically mimic web-based direct-to-consumer commerce, in that they include an image- and video-rich storefront, search, category pages and product detail pages (PDP) with extensive information.

In addition to providing ample and useful product information, Chinese product pages also incorporate content from celebrities, influencers and users to make product pages livelier. This includes asking users for permission and reusing their social media product photos on official product pages, as well as mimicking the style of user photos. These tactics can help reduce consumers’ skepticism in social commerce. Western marketers should strive for a visual style on their social media and social commerce presence that is both authentic to the brand’s image and native to the social media community’s unique taste.

Marketers outside of China should leverage insights from the country’s social commerce playbook. Experiment with Chinese social commerce tactics, and start a dialogue with teams operating in the Chinese market to learn the social commerce practices that make the most sense for your brand.

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