Social Commerce is an expression that will sound new to most, although it has to do with something very common and with which we have probably all had to do at least once. In fact, if we break down the whole expression, we realize that it is made up of two words that have now entered our daily life. Social, in fact, indicates the kind of platform on which most people spend their time: whether it is Facebook , Instagram or TikTok it makes no difference. The word social now identifies virtual spaces of aggregation where to share opinions and experiences through posts, photos and videos.

When associated with the word Commerce, the social acquires a further meaning, easy to understand. By now we can say that anyone has had at least a shopping experience through which e-commerce platform , with their favorite brand or with a completely new brand.

Well when we combine the two words, it means that we are talking about making shopping experiences directly on our favorite social network, without having to go out to external pages.

Come to think of it, this is a real revolution, which has been happening for some time but which has not yet fully expressed its potential. Indeed, it must be said that alongside the numerous advantages that this innovative solution offers, there are also disadvantages that can have a heavy impact on the dynamics of a large company, rather than a small company with a much smaller structure.

If up to now social networks have always and only assumed the meaning of spaces in which to share life experiences and nothing else, with the integration of the sales part, they are transforming into a hybrid that arouses enormous curiosity.

PrestaShop recently released its module dedicated to Social Commerce: PrestaShop Facebook , which promises to give visibility to products in a few clicks. And it took its first steps towards TikTok through a collaboration.

Advantages and disadvantages of using social networks as a sales channel?

If we think of the advantages, for example, from the customer's point of view, there is no doubt that the first aspect to consider is that of ease of use. This ease is given by the fact that customers are already very familiar with the social network interface and making a purchase will not require any additional effort. On the other hand, if you move to external e-commerce, it is equally true that each brand will have a different platform from all the others and this can be an obstacle, especially for less technological customers. On social media, however, the ecommerce space of one brand or another will have no differences.

As important as it is, this is certainly not the main advantage for a customer. In fact, there is another much more relevant aspect and it is that of integration, that is the possibility of being able to make a shopping experience without the need to browse another site but always remaining among the pages of the favorite social network.

This is actually also the first advantage for companies, which find themselves having to manage completely new dynamics but which can bring enormous benefits to their business. How could it be otherwise if the social network suddenly became both the tool for finding potential customers and for selling? Indeed, if we want to be essential, this is exactly how things are. If before the era of Social Commerce, a platform like Facebook was used only as a space where to convey one's advertising messages and implement marketing strategies, now it is transformed into an integrated solution where to sell, intercept existing customers and also find new ones. . More is needed to justify the strength of this solution.

Now let's try to write down a trivial list that summarizes all the features that a company can get from a single platform:

  • Maintain the relationship with old customers;
  • Implement marketing strategies for the acquisition of new customers;
  • Implement marketing strategies for the sale;
  • Launch promos for old and new customers;
  • Provide a customer care service;
  • Encourage customer engagement before, during and after the purchase.

In short, the advantages for a company are innumerable and this explains why the sales spaces in social networks are multiplying with each passing day. If you think about it, from a traditional point of view of sales processes, the elements we have just listed would require several diversified tools.

If the sale essentially requires only an e-commerce, the offer of a customer care service requires the implementation of a CRM, which at the same time allows you to manage the customer records, and to track the actions of those who still they are not. Then you need to equip yourself with marketing software, then you will need a tool for newsletters and then you will have to take into account the management of social networks where to convey advertising messages, stimulate the purchase and promote the products.

In short, managing all this infrastructure is not really easy. Although a social network does not allow the effective implementation of each of these aspects, it is true that many things can be enclosed without too many problems.

Apparently, then, the concept of social commerce seems to offer a highly innovative space that does not fear competition and that could supplant any other solution tomorrow. Will it really be like this? We do not know but we certainly cannot fail to consider the other side of the coin, that is the disadvantages that this solution, however effective and efficient, inevitably brings with it.

Also in this case the disadvantages can be borne both by customers (very few) and by the company. Between the two protagonists of the sales processes there is, among the disadvantages, a point of contact: the extreme limitation of the purchase / sale space. In other words, no matter how convenient and effective, buying on Facebook, for a customer, will still be limiting compared to considering the entire world panorama of e-commerce. Conversely, it is not certain that for a company limiting itself only to users of one or more social networks can be a good sales strategy, especially in the long term. Diversifying, for both, could be the most correct choice.

In addition to this, there are two other disadvantages for companies:

  • Warehouse management;
  • Integration of other applications.

Both are very technical processes. Anyone with a minimum of sales experience knows very well that warehouse management is a fundamental part of the job, to the point that it can compromise relationships with customers when they buy something that has actually already been sold. Well, at present the social commerce system does not lend itself very well to the management of your warehouse, so you need to be aware that a very artisanal approach to the problem is necessary. This might be indifferent for a small business but it is not for a large company.

Same thing for the integration with the other applications. We mentioned it even before: companies usually use many other IT tools, such as a CRM, warehouse management - in fact - or other types of software useful for the management of different business processes. Failure to integrate with these software can compromise smooth operation of the entire machine.

One last note: you must be careful not to confuse the concept of social commerce with that of social shopping. If the first indicates an integrated sales and acquisition system, the second means something much simpler and which simply consists in giving visibility to purchases made both offline and online.

In conclusion, it is certainly good to cultivate the social commerce process but without neglecting all the other sales opportunities because we can still be sure of one thing: diversification is the real secret of success.

Facebook Free module

Social Commerce and PrestaShop

PrestaShop has released its own free module for Facebook , focusing on ease of configuration and a single interface to integrate your catalog with Facebook Business Manager, Facebook Page and Instagram Business Account. Unfortunately the module is very immature, the first versions had several bugs, but PrestaShop is working on its improvement. However, there are several alternatives offered by the CMS community. As for TikTok , PrestaShop has recently entered into agreements with the Chinese social network, the purpose of the partnership is to allow Merchants to access the main features of TikTok For Business directly from the dashboard, in the announcement of October 2021 PrestaShop's intention will be to allow merchants to:

  • Connect from PrestaShop directly to TikTok for Business;
  • Synchronize the product catalog and have integrated solutions to promote one's products through the social network community;
  • Install the TikTok pixel to track conversions and re-targeting.

Currently the Social Commerce on TikTok is still in the test phase and not free from problems, including a significant decline in performance on the product cards in the front-end of the ecommerce. PrestaShop's direct interest in Social Commerce is however an excellent rye for the future of the open source ecommerce platform.

Author: Loris Modena


For Ind Loris Modena , owner of Arte e Informatica , he began working in the IT sector in 1989 as a system engineer in charge of the maintenance and installation of IT systems. He started programming for the web in 1997 dealing with CGI programming in PERL and then moving on to programming in PHP and JavaScript. In this period he approaches the Open source world and the management of Linux servers.

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