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Social commerce has outpaced physical retail in SEA, and Instagram Live’s new scheduling feature may mean more than you think

By Azrayna A on 27 October 2021

Social commerce is here and thriving as the second most popular shopping format in Southeast Asia

A recent study by iKala finds that social commerce in Southeast Asia has surpassed physical retail to become the second most popular shopping format in the region, second only to e-commerce. Social commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods or services that happen within a social media platform. iKala, an AI-based solution provider, said in a statement that even with Covid-19 restrictions in many parts of Southeast Asia, the pace of growth for social shopping shows few signs of slowing. “If anything, more people are spending more of their time discovering, considering, and purchasing products within the social media ecosystem,” the statement reads.

Social commerce is widely available across all major social media platforms and includes Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shops, Pinterest Shopping, and Twitter’s recently piloted  ‘Shop’ button. Not forgetting TikTok, whose new partnership with Shopify will allow brands to showcase catalogues on the platform.

The iKala report was based on a survey of 1,600 social shoppers and more than 23,600 business customers (social sellers) across Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore, conducted in the first two quarters of 2021. “In fact, as many as 42% of total shoppers said they use social media to make purchases 1-2 times per month, and 35% use it shop more than 3 times a month,” iKala noted. To top it off, revenue per order rose 88%, a staggering amount that reflects how consumers weren’t just buying more on social media, but also spending more on every order. However, payment preferences differ across the region. Singapore and Malaysia consumers favour credit cards and digital wallets respectively, while those in Thailand and the Philippines prefer cash on delivery. For a diverse and vast region such as Southeast Asia, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. 

Facebook shares Discovery Commerce Marketing Guide to navigate APAC’s year-end Mega Sale shopping season

Mega Sale Days refer to year-end sales that take place on 11.11 (Singles' Day), Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 12.12, and Christmas. For many consumers, Mega Sale events serve as a point of entry to online shopping. During this time, around 86% of consumers in Southeast Asia say they’ve purchased products online. For many, it’s also their first time: 43% of Mega Sale shoppers in Southeast Asia say such events were the first time they ever bought something online. The highest percentage of such buyers can be found in Thailand and Vietnam at 64% and 53% respectively.

Furthermore, 82% of all APAC Mega Sale day shoppers discovered the item that they purchased on Facebook apps. So how should businesses prepare and anticipate shopper needs? The Facebook Discovery Commerce system can help brands delight shoppers and anticipate their needs, helping products find people wherever they are through a series of sophisticated components and tools. The guide outlines four key moments, with recommended actions and partner integrations.

Firstly, customers yearn for connection. Creating personalised customer-centric experiences is more important than ever. When shoppers are browsing, receiving personalised and relevant product recommendations along the way can help create an effective discovery experience in their shopping journey.

Second, shoppers are finding entertainment in live shopping events and gamified shopping experiences during sale days and beyond. Marketers should work to integrate entertainment into content and commerce by creating experiences that are both inspiring and shoppable.

Third, creating a seamless customer experience and path to purchase has never been more important. People want shopping to become easier. Shoppers are expecting more from technology to enable a frictionless buying experience. Of APAC shoppers, 41% want better ability to imagine products on brand or retailer websites, such as product previews and virtual reality (VR) presentations.

Lastly, there has been a dramatic change in how shoppers perceive and use digital channels: a shift from utility to inspiration. As many as 69% of APAC shoppers say the internet is making them more spontaneous or impulsive in their shopping over time. With the overwhelming choice presented to shoppers, the internet offers growing utility to bring people inspiring, personalised shopping stimulus — and, because of the convenience, more people are buying online.

By implementing performance marketing products and shopping solutions, every moment can be an opportunity for discovery, inspiration, and connection.

Instagram Live gets new live scheduling features 

Instagram launched new tools targeted at the needs of Live creators. The new IG Live Scheduling update helps users promote, plan and prepare for upcoming Lives. The tool lets you schedule your stream up to 90 days in advance and followers can set reminders to tune in via a new Stories Sticker for Scheduled Lives.

This timely update may be a signal to the rise of Asia’s surging live streaming industry. Livestreaming has become a major element in China’s retail sector, as McKinsey reported. “In China, live commerce has transformed the retail industry and established itself as a major sales channel in less than five years. In a 2020 survey, two-thirds of Chinese consumers said they had bought products via livestream in the past year.” In addition to enabling real-time e-commerce, given the projections and potential opportunity of social commerce in Asia, livestreaming may be a path for brands to stand out during peak sale seasons.

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