Social commerce is a relatively new term for the current generation. The IT developers of the previous decade were familiar with E-commerce; it was a neat and clean equation. The marketing department of a company converts a visitor into a customer, this customer pays the money with the help of an electronic interface and they deliver the product to the household of the person. It was E-commerce, many companies also added E-commerce as value addition into their kitty in order to expand their reach in the markets (Spencer, 2016). The same E-commerce clubbed together with the data regular data coming from the sources of the social media, created a new stream of business and information, with a passage of time this new stream attained the name of social commerce. Most of the startups that have made it big are clocking growth at the rate of around 40 percent; the number of social media users is increasing with each passing day. Manufacturers are coming up with new devices that are friendly to accommodate various practices of Social commerce.
In the macro-economical terms, we can say that it is a new market segment or probably a new market that is shaping up and competing with a regular market place because needs and demands are not increasing that efficiently. The current assignment is an attempt to check out the growth opportunities for this new marketplace, which is emerging. In this study, we will also pinpoint some areas where a special attention is required. Some patches are present there that has the power to slow down the growth of this sector and put a question mark on the presence of these new trends.
Social media started its official journey with social sites like Orkut and Facebook, Orkut was dedicated to creating a profile where people can search their old friends, and facebook took it to the level of staying connected. Twitter took it to the level where social media became a platform to telecast their views and opinions. The specter of social media is increasing with each passing day on two levels. First, the number of the participants is increasing and second it is designing a new lifestyle for the people as well (Stockman, 2013).
Right now, we are in the second phase of this development, pages like www.orkut.com are already out of business and a big section of Facebook users is feeling the heat of commercial activity over these pages. Many people consider it as an invasion of their personal space. Sometimes advertising on facebook and social media pages can bring in the tag of unwholesome advertising for many people. Social commerce is dependent on the success of the social media page with which they are dealing.
If the corresponding social media page fails in the process of monetization then it can also serve as a setback to the setup of the social commerce setup. A big section of Facebook failed miserably to monetize its operations. It is serving as a leader in the market but most of its sections are waiting for the act of monetization. This is a negative trend for the market; however, the picture is not dark completely. The first time users of the internet are showing a keen interest in the offerings of social commerce. For the seasoned users it is a matter of unlearning few past experience and for the users of new generation it is a new ground full of convenience and great deals (Prasath, 2015)
Many users still believe that pages of social media are playthings and the serious commercial activities take place on a different frontier. This perception of the people can also be considered as a big problem in the growth of the social commerce. The battle between Google and Facebook is a classical example for that, Google tried its hand in the advent of social media platform, Facebook, on the other hand, launched its Email service and tried to create a search engine, both the endeavors never meet with expected success because of the strong brand perceptions attached to these big names (Covili, 2012).
The biggest challenge that social commerce is going to face during the current times can be associated with this brand perception, sometimes the popularity of a brand kills its own market share and restricts the possibilities of expansion and growth.
The primary principles of marketing suggest two methods increase the demand for the goods. Both these methods are associated with the needs, either cater to the need of the market or create the need in the market. Social media is a powerful tool to launch a new lifestyle in the life of the people, it has the power to interact with the people and collect their feedbacks.
Social media platforms are creating the needs for many products. They are emerging as a big platform where people are sharing their feedbacks on a genuine level; this new segment can create many opportunities for the products that are on the sale under the realms of social commerce (Clapperton, 2012).
Manufacturers are designing new products and services around the services of social commerce. For a better understating of this phenomenon we can take an example from the film world at the turn of this century all the filmmakers were making money for big screens, they were trying to please the critics and catering to a segment that was seeking for larger than life cinema.
The culture of home theater setups gave them a new segment of the market; many TV producers tried their hand in this segment and earned good profits on some films with better shelf life. Under the realms of social commerce, they are making some short films for web-based platforms and selling the subscription of various such channels. Social commerce facilities are promoting these films and creating a genuine word of mouth for them.
In the similar vein, many experimental products also find a market because of the social commerce, think about a tool kit designed for the farmers, this toolkit can be converted into irrigation tools. The success of this product is doubtful at the large scale because it is not user-friendly. With the help of social commerce, it can recover its cost with the help of social commerce, above-mentioned examples give us this clear idea that social commerce can give rise to some amazing new business models. In these business models, the products can achieve their break-even points and disappear from the market without doing any substantial investment in the terms of logistics and marketing (Judy Whiteside, 2017). This area can be considered as an opportunity area for the practices of social commerce. Television industry also developed a similar model in the past, they created a market for themselves where none of the products lasted for long but recovered their investments. The same traffic is now diverting towards social commerce platforms where manufacturers are advertising their products and walking away with initial profits.
The concept of the test run of various products is fading away, platforms like social commerce are giving them a new business model where they can launch their products during the phase of development and later on update them. Many software companies have done it in the past, the evolution of Android and windows are a poignant example for that. Social commerce can give a new platform to these product launches and create a sustainable business model for them where they can update themselves quite effectively. For such type of products, social commerce platforms are emerging as a money minting option.
Many startups lost the track of business because they failed to create an identity for themselves. It is true that social commerce is an outcome of the merger of two streams. However, It never means that social commerce is a simple blend of social media and E-commerce facilities, it is much more than that, here they also introduced the concept of the data processing into the mainframe and came up with a solution where they can promote and sell the goods.
The introduction of a commercial activity in an existing page is a different thing, developing a separate social commerce page is a different ball game. The social nature of the page generates data and the processing of this data further give rise to a different kind of commerce.
It is a lengthy process; this gestation period also creates a barrier for the growth of these pages. If a web page owner has the resources to sustain with the help of some initial investments then it can become a lucrative deal for them. We can see it from the perspective of showbiz, every social media site is an idea first, and it is like the trailer of a film. The commercial activity on the web page is more or less like a box office report, where we count the money, which is flocking in because of the endeavor.
First, connect it with a daily utility and then wait for the monetization to take place is the new wait and watch mantra of the cyber world when they deal with social commerce. The star up culture and the culture of web services that are associated with are promoting social commerce big time.
We can understand it with the help of some simple terms of branding and advertising, these terms are brand positioning and brand loyalty. The presence of an app gives a boost to the brand loyalty and in the long run, this brand loyalty further gives a boost to the concept of brand positioning.
Social media is a game of numbers, it is a kind of word of mouth, we can understand it with the example of Whatsapp, this app became popular because of its many features, after a span of five years, finally Facebook took over it, because of an App. Whatsapp has a strong brand positioning and now it is in a position where it can command a lot of advertising revenues and earn money on each transaction which is taking on this platform, the culture of apps has emerged as a big opportunity for social commerce facilities (Lee, 2013).
Social commerce facilities have opened a new battleground on the internet, five years ago, real world and virtual world players were battling it out in the guise of indirect competitors. The internet based services scored big time in the match and the sustainable growth rate is sharing their story of success. The size of the pie is increasing and the point of saturation is far away because the number of internet users is increasing. An easy access to the technology and removal of the entry barriers is another factor, which is changing the rules of the game.
Now social commerce facilities are eating up the pie of these established e-commerce platforms. In the round one of the battle, E-commerce platforms are far ahead in the race because of the capital of the trust that they have earned. An average user is not ready to accept social media as a place of transaction. Most of these places are thriving on network directed solutions.
However, the day is not far when these social media platforms will ride in the driver's seat and poses a serious threat to the established commerce platforms.
On the closing note, we can always say that identity crisis and lack of the trust are the key hindrances in the past of the social commerce facilities. On the other hand, new generation of the users or the first time users of the internet and social media sites are an opportunity area for them, this sector is poised to attain some growth because real world producers and providers of the services are designing goods that can be auctioned on social commerce platforms.
Clapperton, G. (2012). This is Social Commerce: Turning Social Media into Sales.
Covili, J. J. (2012). Going Google: Powerful Tools for 21st Century Learning.
Judy Whiteside, D. K. (2017). Introduction to Electronic Commerce and Social Commerce.
Lee, N. (2013). Facebook Nation: Total Information Awareness.
Prasath, R. (2015). Mining Intelligence and Knowledge Exploration: Third International Conference.
Spencer, S. (2016). Social ECommerce: Increasing Sales and Extending Brand Reach.
Stockman, F. (2013). Evolution of Social Networks.