Social commerce is becoming increasingly important to marketers in South East Asia, with a new survey from Econsultancy finding 96% of respondents saying it will become increasingly important in the next five years, while 90% agree that social media drives online sales.
Despite these results, less than 6 in 10 of these companies have their social media platforms fully integrated with their eCommerce platform.
The State of Social Commerce in South East Asia report, produced by Econsultancy in partnership with Magento, an Adobe company, and Hootsuite, is based on a survey of more than 270 eCommerce marketers and 270 consumers in Southeast Asia.
The research looks at how consumers shop online and how they use social media, comparing this with how retailers are responding to the opportunities present.
This research finds that, almost 6 in 10 consumers say that more than one-quarter of all their online shopping is influenced by social media, with the two most popular channels triggering a purchase being Facebook (78%) and YouTube (52%). In addition, 44% of these social shoppers say they have made three or more online purchases in the past month as a result of seeing social media posts or ads.
82% of these consumers share their purchases via their social networks, amplifying the impact of buying online, showing that each shopping experience can be social.
In addition, some social networks are underserved by brands. For example, while 95% of shoppers surveyed use YouTube and 71% use WhatsApp, fewer brands are on either of these channels (76% YouTube, 51% WhatsApp).
The top challenges that eCommerce marketers face with regards to social commerce are increased competition (53%), developing a social strategy that addresses different regions and markets in Southeast Asia (32%), meeting revenue targets (31%) and changing customer expectations (30%).
"With 90% of internet users in South East Asia connecting to the internet using their smartphone, the opportunity to engage with shoppers is vast," says Econsultancy APAC managing partner, Jefrey Gomez.
"If consumers can make a purchase immediately when they discover a product on social media, it reduces the number of steps in the customer journey and decreases the likelihood of abandoned carts. Less than 60% of brands surveyed have their social media channels fully integrated with their eCommerce platform due to a lack of desire to change existing workflows, which presents a huge opportunity for social commerce in South East Asia to grow," he explains.
"Customers don't care about singular touchpoint events. What matters to them is the cumulative experience across multiple touchpoints, multiple channels over time. Consequently, social commerce plays a key role in this respect," says Gomez.
Nicholas Kontopoulos, regional head of APAC Marketing, Magento, says 87% of businesses leading in social commerce said they saw eCommerce sales rise, with 58% of shoppers reporting that more than one-quarter of all their online shopping is in some way influenced by social media, yet it is seen by businesses just as a customer service channel (13%), a brand channel (13%) and not treated as a priority marketing channel (12%).
Hootsuite CMO Penny Wilson said that more than three-quarters of marketers, 76%, expect to increase their spend in social commerce technology over the next 12 months.
"Asia will continue to lead the charge in social selling, but I believe the region is setting the bar for future behavior in the west," she says.
"Right now, 70% of Gen Zers in China opt to buy directly from social. But this trend is quickly spreading around the globe, and to every demographic. I predict 2020 will be the year we finally see a significant rise in social commerce around the world."