The pandemic blew up the popularity of e-commerce around the world. Consumers purchased retail online because physical stores were closed, and they were confined to their homes. Their only access to the outside world was through the Internet. People spent most of their time online through their smartphones and many purchases started from mobile browsing.
The Reign of Online Retail Through Mobile Phones
According to data from Statista, e-retail sales exceeded $4.2 trillion worldwide in 2020 as more than two billion people bought goods and services online. In 2021, an unprecedented 70 percent of all visits to retail websites worldwide are happening through smartphones.
In the United States, according to Digital Commerce 360, online retail sales in 2020 increased by 32.4 percent or $105 billion more than e-commerce sales in 2019 to reach a total of $791.70 billion. This accelerated the growth of online retail by two years and represented the highest yearly online sales growth so far.
Data shows that the record will be surpassed in 2021. In the first quarter of this year alone, online retail sales in the U.S. already increased by 39 percent compared to the first quarter of last year. Digital Commerce 360 attributes the growth in e-commerce purchases in early 2021 to consumers having the money to spend from stimulus checks and tax returns. Consumers were also purchasing products in preparation for life after full vaccination when they are allowed to go out unmasked, socialize and travel.
Online retail is also helped by people’s high usage of smartphones in the U.S. Data from Pew Research Center shows that as of February 2021, 85 percent of the U.S. population owns a smartphone. According to a study by Google Analytics, 60 percent of website visits in the U.S. in 2020 were on mobile devices while only 38 percent were on desktops and three percent were on tablets.
Online Retail Goes Social
It was only a matter of time before the high usage of smartphones, the high usage of social media, and the high dependence on online retail converge. Online marketers define social commerce as the online retail of goods and services through social networks like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and others. It includes direct purchases on the social platform, orders on the social platform with payments elsewhere, or clicks on the social platform that led to purchases on a website.
In 2020, social commerce increased by 38.9 percent compared to 2019 in the U.S., making up four percent of the U.S. online retail market. In 2021, the forecast is for an annual increase of 35.8 percent to reach $36.62 billion.
The number one social commerce platform in the U.S. is Facebook with 56.1 million users aged 14 and older, making up 22.3 percent of all U.S. internet users. Facebook users are predicted to make at least one purchase on the platform in 2021. Further predictions for 2021 include 32.4 million people or 12.9 percent of U.S. internet users making a purchase on Instagram, and 13.9 million people or 5.6 percent of U.S. internet users making a purchase on Pinterest.
Selling on Social Media
Imagine if you could get a share of those social commerce purchases. It is easy and only needs your full attention. Social media platforms do not charge sellers any fees. They do encourage sellers to buy paid advertising, but it is not a requirement.
First, you must choose your product. It can be something that you make yourself or something that you purchase from a supplier. You can bake goodies, bottle your pasta sauces, knit customized wearables, or do anything you have serious skills for. You can also find a supplier for a product that you believe will be sellable.
The Need for a Reliable Partner
If you sell your own products, you must find a reliable door-to-door delivery service that is trustworthy and reliable. You do not want any late deliveries, damaged products, or lost products. You must also create packaging that is both attractive and sturdy enough for courier handling.
For the latter, you do not need capital or a warehouse if you do drop shipping. Instead of buying goods in advance with your own money and finding space to stock them in while waiting for buyers, you only need to make an agreement with the supplier and promote the product actively on various social media platforms. Whenever you get an order, you ask the buyer to pay in advance including the cost of shipping. You forward the payment to the supplier, keeping your commission or mark up, and the supplier takes care of shipping the product to the buyer.
You must then establish an active presence on all social media platforms where your target market congregates. Do your research so that you do not need to spend valuable time and effort on platforms that have few of your potential buyers. Once you have identified your niches, post daily, and engage with your audience. This human-to-human interaction is the key because after all, it is social media. Then be prepared as your orders come in.