How can firms capitalize on Social Commerce?

I’m sure by now you are all familiar with the concept of social commerce and the advantages it can offer compared to traditional distribution channels. While social commerce is growing exponentially and many firms have adopted this strategy, there still remains unfulfilled potential, particularly in the Western World.

China is the most advanced nation under this aspect and experts estimate it to be 10 years ahead of the Western Hemisphere. The growth of Chinese social commerce, particularly mobile commerce, can be summarized with a few statistics. The market for rural customers (Living outside the big cities) is estimated at $16 billion, for mobile commerce alone. Contrary to the West, the Chinese consumer makes most of his e-commerce transaction through mobile phone rather than computers. A staggering 388 smart cars were sold in just 3 minutes through the ‘WeChat’ social app. It is hard to imagine someone from a western culture make such a big transaction online, let alone 400 in under 5 minutes.

So how can Western firms emulate the success social commerce is having in China? There is no clear answer and this should be analyzed more thoroughly by Western Marketers. It may never reach the level of China due to the cultural barrier. Chinese consumers seem a lot more active in the social commerce arena, 40% of user who have shopped online are willing to share their experience on social media compared to the almost insignificant 1% in the West. It is worth noting that social commerce is a relatively new phenomenon, so the psychological/cultural reasons that convinced the Chinese new generation to trust and shop online so often can be replicated in the West.

One step Western firms can take to bridge the overwhelming gap with China is to use Social commerce as efficiently as possible to create a unique and valuable experience for the user. Bottica, an online jewelry retailer, published the results of a study comparing the traffic generated from Facebook and Pinterest.

Facebook vs Pinterest infographic

Every firm should analyze the data from their social media platforms as they show what type of transaction they can expect from different users and create a suitable strategy for each channel. Bottica might consider displaying some of their cheaper products to Facebook users given their purchasing habits for example.

The main conclusion is that firms have to think of innovative ways to exploit all the information they are receiving through social media. It is no longer enough to simply have a Facebook page or Twitter account, firms have to think of ways to optimize their social commerce strategy to create value for users. If Western firms can do this successfully, we might one day see them reach the impressive level of social commerce growth of China.


Bowler, C. 2015. Six Eye-Opening Stats About Social Commerce in China. Forbes Magazine.

Feinleib, D. 2012. How Facebook, Pinterest Compare In Social Commerce. Forbes Magazine.


One thought on “How can firms capitalize on Social Commerce?

  1. I can’t wait to comment on this blog since I’m an active online shopper on Chinese social commerce.

    It’s quite wise of you to think discover that more Chinses online shoppers are willing to share their experience than in the west, and I think apart from the cultural and psychological reasons, it’s also because of techniques that e-commerce company and shop owners have applied. For example, the e-commerce company like Taobao ( the online shops of Alibaba) will give the customers more credential or coupon if they actively give feedback after purchasing, and the feedback includes following parts: whether the product is as precise as described on the website, the attitude of the shop service, the speed of the logistics,etc. And some shop owners even give the customers cash back if they give good feedback on the product and service.

    I think maybe this is why Chinese social commerce has more revenue ( or maybe it’s just because we have a larger population…I don’t know). Social commerce, I think, should emphasize more on the ‘social’ part, or it will remain only e-commerce. The platform encourage the interaction and feedback, and the message should be public so that other customers can benifit from it.

    Your blog also reminds me of another thing.For the commerce company or platform like FB or Pinterest, collecting data and use them to target potential customers are important. Another example from China is on WeChat. Recently WeChat got a ‘promotion’ part on the ‘Moment’, where people usually share they daily life. It’s said that different people got different promotion or advertising of different things, based on their past posts. There seems to be a system to analyse people’s living standard, and the promotion is based on such statistics. It’s kind of like separate people into different parts in terms of their purchase power. It has its drawbacks, say, maybe make some one feel not proud, but it does have a positive effect on marketing.

    On another hand, however, we do have some drawbacks. The quality of the goods, the credits of shop owners, fake or untrue advertising, or some psychological things (I mean, we Chinese somethimes buy things blindly). And some of my friends even buy things through western social commerce because they feel more safe in this way.

    And I think, maybe it’s time that there’s a connection between Chinese and western social commerce, not simply, say, one side bridges the gap with another side. It’s a long way to go, for a lot of reasons, though. I don’t know, but we can expect.

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