Social commerce is gaining ground among consumers, growing three times as fast as overall ecommerce. By 2025, U.S. social commerce retail sales will exceed $79 billion and global sales will top $1 trillion.
This trend opens a new set of channels for retailers, especially those seeking to reach new audiences and markets. It also delivers retailers a new set of challenges in terms of brand reputation, customer experiences, and security, all of which require retailers to develop strategies for earning and keeping customers’ trust.
Retailers should consider the impact their social strategy elements have on customer trust. This includes your choice of social platforms, the payment methods you accept, how you screen orders for fraud and how you safeguard your brand presence on social media. Identify the platforms your customers trust the most.
Research into consumer attitudes about the trustworthiness of social platforms shows that 61% trust YouTube as a place to research and make purchases, followed by Facebook at 51%. Only 35% of survey respondents said they trust relative newcomer TikTok for shopping. These figures offer general guidance, but there are other factors to consider before deciding on the platforms for your store.
For example, the platforms your customers prefer may vary by demographics. Older Millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers are Facebook’s main users. Gen Z prefers TikTok and YouTube and consider Facebook for the older folks. Despite Facebook’s high level of overall trust, if your customers are in their early twenties and teens, focus your social strategy on the most trustworthy platforms where they spend their time.
Next, it’s wise to dig deeper into the data on those personas to understand the kinds of purchases they’re already making in those channels. For example, are they more likely to click on an ad to sign up for a subscription service, take advantage of a discount deal or make clothing purchases? How often do they shop on the platform and how much do they spend on average? This platform-specific data can help you decide on your initial product offerings and promotion strategies.
Offer Payment Options Your Customers Trust
There are two trust-related elements to consider when deciding what social commerce payment options to offer. The first is convenience, trusting they’ll be able to complete a purchase easily. If they can’t, they’re likely to buy from someone who offers an easier experience. The second is security. Among consumers who haven’t yet made a social commerce purchase, 43% said they distrust social platforms with their payment data.
Digital wallets address both customer trust issues. Because they store card, billing and shipping data, they make checkout faster and easier than keying in credit card numbers. And because digital wallets don’t expose account numbers to merchants or social platforms, they’re considered highly trustworthy. Among online shoppers in five countries, ClearSale found that 71% sometimes or always pay for their online purchases with a digital wallet instead of a credit card, which shows a high level of comfort with this payment method.
Monitor Social Media for Brand Impostors
Fraudsters impersonate brands in many channels, including social media, to steal unsuspecting customers’ stored login credentials and payment data. As more people get into the habit of shopping on social media, fraudsters are putting more focus there. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 45% of reported social media scams that cost victims money were related to ecommerce. And in many of those cases, victims were tricked by ads “that impersonated real online retailers” but “drove people to lookalike websites” where they placed orders that never arrived.
Social listening tools can help your team check mentions of your brand across platforms. When there’s a fraud complaint, the social media team can follow up with the customer to learn what happened, report impostor accounts to the platform and warn customers and your security team about the problem. When customers can see that your business takes an active role in engaging with them and protecting them from scams, they’re more likely to trust your brand.
Maintain Effective Security for Social Commerce Transactions
Protecting your social commerce customers from fraud and frustration also requires order screening to prevent fraud and ensure that good orders get approved. Start by understanding as much about the platform’s transaction fraud metrics as possible, including card not present (CNP) and account takeovers (ATO). Because account takeovers of social media accounts increased by more than 1,000% from 2021 to 2022, it’s important to screen all social commerce orders, even those that seem to come from known, trusted accounts.
Nearly 90% of consumers would boycott a merchant after payment card fraud, so preventing CNP and ATO fraud on social media maintains customer trust and reduces churn. However, it’s also important to avoid rejecting orders by mistake. Rather than automatically denying all flagged orders, manually review them. An expert can quickly determine if the suspect order is a fraud attempt or simply unusual behavior from a good customer. This practice can increase social order approval rates. It also avoids insulting good customers by implying they’re not trustworthy. That can prompt 40% of customers to boycott and 34% to complain on social media, which can negatively impact your social commerce initiatives.
Always Look to Optimize Your Social Commerce
Building customer trust requires an ongoing effort to make sure your customers have the social shopping experience they need and want. That means monitoring metrics to see if their platform or payment method preferences are changing. It also means frequent analysis of your social commerce transaction data to track fraud attempt, chargeback, order approval and false decline rates. Finally, it means engaging customers on social media so you can know what they want, and they can trust you to provide it.
Rafael Lourenco is EVP and Partner at ClearSale