Recently, social media sites like Snapchat and Instagram greatly expanded their platforms by giving their users the capability to buy items and services straight from their apps. This was widely lauded as a huge step toward the future of retail—after all, social media has changed the way that marketers target new audiences, influence shopping behaviors, and track what shoppers are interested in. So why wouldn't social media change the way we shop?
However, this retail power hasn't quite extended into sales. In fact, according to a recent study by digital commerce firm Sumo Heavy, fewer than 20% of people have actually purchased something through a social media platform. There are a few reasons for this, but shoppers highlight the two issues that always seem to hinder online sales: they are concerned about safety and privacy, particularly in the wake of ongoing revelations about the security and ethics of Facebook, Instagram's parent company.
So, what are shoppers who refuse to shop on social media looking for? It's a feature that should make mobile marketing innovators very happy: chatbots.
Chatbots are quickly becoming a popular customer service feature of eCommerce platforms to help users make purchasing decisions and boost the ease and convenience of shopping. In April of this year, we reported that 66% of consumers are open to the idea of chatbots, citing AI's potential for increased security and privacy. However, that statistic has shot up in just two quarters: now, 74% of customers are interested in using a chatbot to shop.
Why is this good news for apps? Chatbots are spreading across mobile commerce like wildfire, with Starbucks notably leading the way as they test new AI capabilities. While Starbucks is a restaurant chain, they offer a shining example for retailers to follow: they reduce as many clicks as possible to turn conversions. What makes Starbucks' AI so great is that it no longer requires you to tap your screen several times to place an order. Industry research is clear that there's a universal rule in eCommerce: the fewer clicks a customer has to make, the more conversions they'll make.
Mobile apps are also uniquely suited for chatbots when combined with voice technology. If a customer is concerned about multiple clicks when making a purchase, typing out a conversation with a bot may not benefit them. However, speaking directly to your phone and having your requests dictated to a chatbot will save time and provide the convenience that makes consumers love mobile so much.
It looks like it's going to take some time before social media users see Instagram or Snapchat as a viable, safe way to shop for merchandise. In the meantime, mobile apps are the most promising way to sell your products through smartphones. With 66% of mobile purchases completed through apps, consumers have loudly indicated their trust in native apps over mobile and desktop websites. It's time to meet them with what they want, where they want to shop. For the foreseeable future, your solution to this new challenge in retail is to provide a remarkable mobile app with experiences that social media shopping simply cannot provide.
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Author: Paige Prevelige
Paige serves as a writer and editor for many of Shopgate's content endeavors, including blog posts and social media. A graduate of Texas State University, her previous experience includes handling digital marketing for her local Habitat for Humanity chapter. In her spare time, Paige enjoys DIY projects and catching up on her Netflix queue.