social commerce, instagram, social media

Social Commerce Is The New Storefront


Since its 2010 launch, Instagram has become so much more than just a place to see photos of your neighbour’s Saturday morning brunch. For many brands, Instagram (along with many other social media channels) has become a legitimate place for brand discovery — and a surprisingly consistent source of ecommerce revenue. As ecommerce continues to push the boundaries of what (and where) is possible, retailers are coming to realize that they must take steps to truly integrate their social media platforms and their ecommerce stores to meet consumer expectations. Integrating your business’ Instagram and other social media platforms into your business’ omnichannel mix is absolutely essential to keeping your business relevant and profitable.  

Discovery Driven Commerce

Instagram has become the go-to for customers looking to discover brands and products. This unique customer journey is replicated on almost any visually-oriented social media platform, Facebook and Pinterest included.

But in many ways, Instagram is unique. A highly visual platform encouraging creativity from their user base (both individuals and brands, alike), Instagram content can be easily created and curated for the purpose of enhancing identity and reach.

But brands run into a wall: while Instagram has pivoted towards being an ecommerce channel, brands looking to leverage the power of the tool have been constrained by limited in-app functionality. Of particular frustration is Instagram’s inability to tie each unique post to a unique back link; instead, brands are forced to either use a #LinkInBio call to action, or are left to find solutions outside of the app that allow for this desired flexibility. There’s a trade-off with this increased flexibility, though: brands turning to third-party apps to fulfill this customer experience need to integrate this channel into their ecommerce mix and broader technology stack.

So, with the aid of third-party apps, Instagram is growing as a portal for reduced-friction ecommerce, enabling low-barrier purchases with only a few clicks to complete. For those brands opting to not use Instagram’s “Learn More” feature — the equivalent of other social platforms’ buy-buttons, but with limited functionality as users are only redirected to a general link and not necessarily directly to the product they viewed  — there are options. One such third party application solving this pain point for brands is Curalate. Helping brands augment their Instagram feeds into an interactive platform, this platform, and others like it, allows brands to create an Instagram-styled landing page. This landing page bridges the gap in Instagram’s functionality, allowing brands to create tiled layouts exactly mirroring their Instagram feed, with each image backlinked directly to the product(s) it displays. In this way, Instagram for brands is not only a brand advocate, but is also a portal that is easily shoppable and one that makes sense to the context the customer is interacting with the brand in. 

And so social media, Instagram included, has come a long way from just a digital window-shopping tool: it’s become a full-fledged portal for decentralized ecommerce via enabling in-app shopping. The customer journey is complete on the surface — discovery, engagement, purchase — but now brands are left to figure out how to effectively complete the customer experience all the way through delivery. Brands are now tasked with fully integrating these decentralized social ecommerce portals into their existing technology stack and sales channels.

Visually tagging images and videos of your products drives customer discovery, traffic, and sales. 

The Age of Decentralized Commerce, and the Need for Deep Integration

Starting back with the announcement of the impending trend at the beginning of 2017, cutting-edge omnichannel businesses know that social media isn’t a passive silo, nor does it exist in isolation, away from the broader customer journey. With decentralized social commerce making waves into the foreseeable future, it’s clear that native social media commerce is not a short-term trend. With the impending permanence of social media as a legitimate sales channel, there’s a new challenge for brands looking to further capitalize on decentralized commerce: how to incorporate it into their existing technology stack, strategically.

After implementing a better click-to-complete strategy in implementing third-party apps allowing for users to be directed to relevant product pages for each post as we discussed above, brands using Instagram for ecommerce have already noted the issue of integrating and automating the data from the platform. Because Instagram is limited in it’s in-app functionality for brands, and because of it’s newness in the sales channel mix its difficult to integrate. Newer apps like are changing things dramatically by providing robust APIs that allow for buy button integration to an ERP or a CRM. 

It all boils down to this: By integrating social media and social commerce data tightly with all strategic business functions and objectives, businesses are refining their customer experience through all points of customer contact. Those who don’t, or those who choose to use unsophisticated or poorly matched solutions, risk fragmenting their customer experience — and thus gable with their brand’s impact through all channels.

By integrating and automating the data from all of your brand’s social platforms with your ecommerce store, CRMPIM and other core applications, brands can effectively create and maintain a smooth and effective customer experience through all touch points. But beyond tying Instagram into these applications, businesses should also take a hard look at their holistic back-end integration ecosystem. There must be a seamless process for your customer from discovery to purchase to delivery. This process is complex and requires transparency through the supply chain: all data movements must be tightly integrated and automated, and must happen near real-time or move in a way that makes sense to your business’ strategy. 

Savvy retailers clearly understand how integration informs customer experience in any channel. Grégoire Baret, general manager of omnichannel experience at Aldo, recognizes this relationship and the importance of quick implementation throughout their omnichannel mix:

 “For many, [data integration] is too complex, and they’re not up to par with customer expectations. We embraced technology from the beginning as a way to add better services.”

– Grégoire Baret, Aldo

Looking to integrate decentralized ecommerce into your technology stack? At VL, our VL OMNI cloud hosted one-to-many data integration service is designed to manage complex and sophisticated data automations and integrations, social commerce included. Our philosophy is to provide 100% integration of data movement for our customers so that they can focus on running and growing their businesses.

Learn more here

About how VL can help your business tie all your social commerce and supply chain data together into a single solution that grows with your business