Copyright 2017. American In Macau. All Rights Reserved. 

By Ashley Sutherland-Winch

Published December 15, 2017 in Macau Business Daily

Online shopping is trending and with the success of Single’s Day and Cyber Monday reaching into the billions, companies are looking for the best way to have their products noticed by consumers.
One way that is growing in popularity, especially in South East Asia, is shopping via social media. A new study published in the Wall Street Journal by Bain & Co., reveals that social commerce comprises nearly a third of all online shopping transactions in the region with Facebook and Instagram the most popular shopping platforms.

The study also suggests that 30 per cent of all online sales in the region occurred on social networks in 2016, much higher than the 7 per cent of Americans using social media for shopping, according to Global Web Index. The Bain & Co. study found that South East Asian social media users spend up to five hours a day online; with smartphone business booming this is a recipe for great online shopping potential.
Social networks are racing to add features to allow for and improve online shopping within their platforms. Instagram and Pinterest have recently added click-to-buy features and in June, Facebook launched ‘Shop’ where Facebook pages can build shops for products and services.

While WeChat dominates the Chinese market, its full spectrum of features is lost on those who cannot speak Chinese. WeChat’s loss is Facebook and Instagram’s gain in the South East Asia market. Facebook pages with a shop have the ability to highlight ‘featured products’ on their pages and the capability of adding messaging buttons to products as a way of facilitating sale negotiations or starting a dialogue with the consumer directly. On the near horizon, Facebook is also beta testing ways to include purchase transactions within the network much like WeChat.

Shoppers across the South East region discover products on Facebook or Instagram, then typically reach out to the seller via mobile messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Line or WhatsApp to complete the purchase. Nadia Tan, head of Facebook’s small-medium business unit in Southeast Asia, believes that Facebook Messenger is a key reason why ecommerce by social media is booming in the region, saying: “The platform allows shoppers to haggle, and communicate in real-time with sellers – often small-and medium-sized retailers – directly. Tan revealed that users in Thailand send twice as many Facebook messages to businesses each month as the global average.

I believe that social network shopping is definitely an exciting trend to watch in the New Year.