The scope is changing for the Southeast Asian commercial market. Could the new social media and eCommerce trends have an impact on your company? With the recent emergence of Facebook and Instagram Checkout, these conglomerates are banking that consumerism and social media’s influence will grow exponentially. The combination of social media and eCommerce is as convenient as it is lethal.

Streamlining online shopping

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Product tags on Instagram were the first to bridge the gap from ‘post to purchase’, and since September last year, tag clicks have grown from 90 million to 130 million. Instagram has upgraded the tag and combined online shopping with social media, a move that seems like an obvious next step for the app. Instead of clicking the tag, ‘view on website,’ shoppers can go straight through to Instagram Checkout. Users are able to save their information on the app after making their first purchase, essentially streamlining their future shopping experience. This also shortens the divide between marketing and sales, and brands that already have large followings could potentially see an uptick in business.

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Brand benefits

Instagram joined forces with powerful brands in the launch of their Checkout app addition. Puma, Adidas, and Michael Kors were among the 23 brands that took part in the testing process only available in the U.S. As the checkout option is not given to smaller brands and individual businesses, they will see little difference post-launch while larger fashion, beauty, lifestyle and travel corporations will undoubtedly benefit from its implementation.

Companies used to lose out when consumers added the picture to their saved collections with the intention to purchase later. Now it’s a few easy clicks and users can choose their preferred colour and size, and their order is placed – on the spot. Other features make it possible for shoppers to contact the company, track their items, cancel orders, or return goods. Companies will also be able to use the ‘click’ attribute and track the efficiency of their Instagram marketing structure and campaigns.

Influencer marketing

Instagram has been the platform on which influencers have risen to stardom levels, using their popularity to positively impact the lives of many as well as the eCommerce market. Users depend on their favourite maven with whom they resonate to guide them through the commercial world of products and services – taking word-of-mouth to a new platform.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Global Insights survey of over 22,400 respondents across 27 countries, social media is the number one influencer for shoppers both online and off, with Malaysia and Indonesia both coming in second with 58% (behind the Middle East at 70%).

Adding to this trend is the growing middle class in Southeast Asia that is tapping into the world of consumerism. And it appears that both Facebook and Instagram have brought out these new application components at just the right time. Scrolling consumers may come across an image from a campaign fashion shoot, in this case, they’re immediately given the option of purchasing.  

Thailand is considered one of several “mobile first” countries in the region, with 66% of all its Internet traffic originating from hand-held devices. Thailand’s social media penetration is only 32% of the total population, but of that 32%, nearly 51% have reported making online purchases through leading social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus.

Of Indonesia’s 264 million people, nearly 40% of its population uses a smartphone. Further, statistics show that Indonesian youths are avid social media fanatics, with the fourth largest number of Facebook users in the world with 122 million subscribers. Indonesia is the fifth largest user of Twitter and boasts one of the largest Instagram bases as well. As 55% of the connected population admits to being frequent online-shoppers as well, it goes without saying that social media platforms are rife with potential clients in the region.

The future of Facebook

Facebook’s previously criticised newsfeed feature is changing so that users can now understand why they’re seeing ads, whether it’s based on likes, through their friends, or personal post engagements. This information will show users if they’re seeing a post because information on their profile matches the audience selected for the advert.

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The other benefit is the customer has the power to see what interests them and to change it if they don’t. With this feature, brand adverts are hitting their targeting audiences, and users will be able to curate their newsfeeds to get the most value out of their experience.

How to fight the Facebook algorithm

Facebook and Instagram’s Checkout feature will prompt increased customer-business engagement as they implement a platform that allows customers to get in contact with them swiftly. Email, WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, and Facebook Messenger could all provide this communication channel, allowing quick and convenient access to their target audience while promoting brand attributes, thereby gaining industry dominance.

Social media provides a platform for lifestyle influencers: where and how people live, their definitions of relationships, and the worth they place on discovering who they want to be. These are the factors Facebook and Instagram consider. Corporations need to adapt their marketing strategies to the ever-changing lifestyle trends. Optimisation of site interfaces on the mobile platform is a necessity for companies who aim to adapt to the growing number of cell phones infiltrating cultures where the digital evolution skipped straight to the mobile device due to its low price point, ease of use, and portability. With the Southeast Asian tech-savvy population coming of age, we can surely expect a proportional increase in social media eCommerce as well.

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