NationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 1

E-commerce vs social commerce

It has been observed that the focus on social media has evolved globally. Previously, we used social media to communicate with people; but as the communication networks developed, we were also able to connect with brands for shopping. Online stores, social commerce and e-commerce have become more familiar to us now.

Have you ever purchased household items, health and beauty products or any other item through the internet? Maybe, you’ve used the online platforms to sell an old phone or laptop? If your answer is yes, you are engaged with some e-commerce platform. The growth of e-commerce in Pakistan was shared in the fourth meeting of the National E-commerce Council (NECC). It has been informed by the Ministry of Commerce that Pakistan’s e-commerce market size has posted a growth of over 35 per cent in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2020-1 to Rs 96 billion, compared to Rs 71b over the corresponding period.

Traditional commerce is buying and selling goods at a geographical location, of which the goods can be some physical products or services. Customers can go to the store to choose and purchase the goods or contact the store to deliver them. E-commerce is buying and selling through the internet. This form is also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce, where goods, similar to traditional commerce, can be physical products or services. However, customers will not directly choose but select goods through photos or product descriptions provided by the seller. After that, the goods will be shipped to the buyer/s or some other way, depending on the type of products and/or services.

Social commerce is similar to e-commerce. However, it is buying and selling on networking websites through the use of online media and user contributions. The rapid growth of the internet in Pakistan has led to a change in the ways and means people buy and sell goods and services. From social media to websites, they are continually looking for the cheapest and easiest place to buy things or services.

While living in the world of online buying and selling, you must have come across the terms social commerce and e-commerce in daily life, but do you know what they mean and how they differ from each other? E-commerce is an acronym that stands for “electronic commerce.” It is a process by which businesses and consumers sell and buy goods and services through an electronic platform. It may be added that every business and social medium has its own set of advantages and disadvantages while many businesses run in several categories at the same time.

There are four different types of e-commerce business models. If you’re beginning an e-commerce venture, you’ll almost surely fall into one of these four categories.

Business to consumer (B2C) marketing refers to the methods and techniques used by a corporation to promote its goods and services to individual consumers, such as developing, promoting, and distributing products for customers to use in their daily lives. Business-to-business (B2B) marketing, as the term implies, is the marketing of goods or services to other companies and organizations. It differs from B2C marketing, which is focused on customers, in many ways. A consumer-to-business model, also known as C2B, is a form of commerce in which a customer or end-user sells a product or service to a company. The C2B (consumer-to-business) model, in contrast to the more common business-to-consumer model, enables companies to gain value from consumers. Customer to customer (C2C) refers to a retail system in which one customer buys products from another customer through the use of a third-party enterprise or website. C2C businesses are a category of business models that occurred as a result of the development of e-commerce technologies.

Social commerce, in general, refers to the act of selling goods directly via social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter. The overwhelming amount of Facebook buy and sell communities makes it evident that online social interaction and online shopping are a perfect match.

Social commerce platforms help to browse things, click, choose and order them. The customer experience is made easier by social media shops, which eliminates complexity from the process of purchasing hassles. It allows customers to quickly pick products and complete the checkout process in just a few taps, without having to think up and enter accurate search queries to explain one’s needs. Presently, social apps that allow for social commerce include Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Visual satisfaction plays a huge role in purchasing a product and we’ve been conditioned to receive immediate satisfaction from visual experiences as a result of our social media dependence. Social media understands the customer’s tastes and gives a good track to social commerce. We can see that social commerce is leading the future of shopping and we can’t deny the fact that Gen Y will, undoubtedly, be the most significant factor in the growth of social commerce around the world.

Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that involves social media and online media that supports social interaction whereas, e-commerce means buying and selling goods, products, or services over the internet. This is the difference between e-commerce and social commerce. Experts believe that social commerce is leading the future of e-commerce. Brands and retailers will use social media features to create engaging, shareable, and immersive advertisements that help new product releases go viral. Group-buying discounts and social competitions will improve the consumers’ experience more shortly.

In today’s evolving commerce world, establishing a long-term strategy is essential. One should do this step-by-step and do not be limited to one type of commerce. That is, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

(The writer is a Lahore-based freelance contributor)