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Social commerce is growing, opening up growth opportunities for SME's

People love to shop and love to spend hours on social media - the perfect partnership!

For SME’s building and maintaining a website can be a heavy investment, whilst setting up a store on social media may be perceived as inferior. However, with the rise of social commerce, this is definitely changing - and the opportunities within social commerce are growing.

Social commerce brings together two growing trends - social media and e-commerce. It provides a frictionless way to shop, as the full purchase cycle is completed within the social media platform. Brands can leverage their social media presence, by easily sharing promotions and products with shoppers, linking them to a seamless shopping experience. For SME's this offers new opportunities to cost-effectively reach more of their target customers, and increase sales.

The pandemic has brought forward the growing e-commerce trend. In 2018 e-commerce in the UK accounted for 18% of retail sales, jumping to 26% in 2020 as the pandemic was at its peak, but still retaining a higher percentage in 2021, forecast to account for 24% of total sales. (Online share of retail trade in EU countries 2019 | Statista, 2021)

With consumers across all age groups having a social media profile, the opportunity for social commerce is immense. Over 80% of those under 55 have a social profile and almost two-thirds of those aged 55-74. An amazing pool of people to be able to target with a direct link to your online shop. (Social network profile ownership by age UK 2015-2020 | Statista, 2021)

China is already leading the way, with social commerce accounting for 13% of retail sales in 2020. This is led by We Chat, with over 1.2 billion active monthly users. We Chat has launched mini-programs, where users make direct purchases and share products and promotions with friends and family, which leads to them receiving products at a lower price.

Globally the trend towards social commerce is growing. 30% of e-commerce companies worldwide already sell directly on social media, with a further 45% either evaluating or definitely planning to sell on social media in the future. (Global e-commerce companies social commerce adoption 2021 | Statista, 2021)

Social media marketing is one of the strongest digital marketing channels to increase brand awareness, and when fully optimised for SEO is a powerful channel for growing a brand. It allows those who are already interested in your brand to engage and keep up to date with the latest news and product updates, whilst also capturing new potential customers through search, existing follower's network and directly targeting those with a similar profile through advertising. Social commerce takes this a step further, allowing consumers to search for brands via content and to find products that they would not look for on traditional e-commerce platforms, and then easily purchase within the app.

Social commerce opens up new opportunities for getting your product to people at the right time in the right place, by directly linking consumers easily to your social store, at the moment they are interested in your product or service. Brands that implement social commerce into their social media activity, will gain a greater measurable ROI from social media.

Social platforms, particularly Meta, have realized the opportunity, with recent changes to their platforms and more changes likely over the coming months.

In 2020 Facebook launched Facebook Shops. Specifically targeted at small and medium businesses, it is a simplified version of their online store and lives inside both the Facebook and Instagram apps. It allows for shoppers to browse by product category, for products to be tagged on both Facebook and Instagram posts, with insights and analytics available to monitor activity. As the shop is fully integrated into the platform, it provides a fast and seamless shopping experience.

In 2020 Instagram took social commerce a step further, by integrating a shop tab at the bottom of the homepage. This allows Instagram users to click on the icon, and instantly see and purchase products advertised by brands, influencers and celebrities they follow.

Within Instagram, Influencers also offer a further opportunity to take full advantage of social commerce, as they bring their audience with them. Micro-influencers, with between 1000 - 5000 followers are particularly lucrative, as consumers often find their recommendations more genuine and authentic, and from a brands point of view, they are more cost-effective and easier to work with than the larger influencers. If an influencer talks about your brand and captures interest, with a shopping link that stays within the platform, drop-off rates will be far lower than referring shoppers to an external website.

Other platforms have not been so fast to adapt. Pinterest, although focused on inspiring people with ideas, the checkout process is still mostly outside of the app. Tiktok is currently working with Shopify, so we would expect to see growth in social commerce in the near future. Snapchat is focusing on its augmented reality capabilities, with a shop option connected to Amazon, again we are likely to see more growth there too in the future. Currently, Twitter is focusing more on monetizing content, rather than in-app purchases.

For SME’s creating a seamless shopping experience via social media, cost-effectively creates a stronger brand experience, increasing both social ROI and sales growth.

Tina Newport

Digital Marketing Consultant | Beyond Horizons Digital


Statista. 2021. Online share of retail trade in EU countries 2019 | Statista. [online] Available at:

Statista. 2021. Social network profile ownership by age UK 2015-2020 | Statista. [online] Available at:

Statista. 2021. Global e-commerce companies social commerce adoption 2021 | Statista. [online] Available at:


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