Social Commerce And Affiliate Marketing: Embracing The Future Of Digital Shopping


Social commerce has been on a steady rise in recent years, growing to an astounding $492 billion in 2021. If that doesn’t get your sales juices flowing, then perhaps this next statistic will get you to jump aboard the social commerce bandwagon: 64% of social media users that Accenture surveyed said that they made a social commerce purchase in the last year.

That percentage alone should be enough of an incentive to get every brand onboard with social commerce today, but when you consider that 64% equates to nearly 2 billion social buyers globally, then you can see the massive potential the industry holds for businesses small and large!

What Is Social Commerce and How Does It Compare to Ecommerce?

Though the two may sound incredibly similar, the differences between social commerce and ecommerce are quite considerable.

Social commerce is what happens when intelligent and creative marketers take the very best aspects of ecommerce and social media and combine them. Social commerce is the process of directly selling products on social media. However, it’s a little more nuanced than that.

When compared to ecommerce, where the shopping experience happens on a dedicated website or branded app, social commerce’s similarities to ecommerce end. The only characteristic the two sales channels share is the shopper’s ability to complete their entire shopping experience online.

Social commerce differs from ecommerce by offering a complete online sales channel, where the shopper’s entire shopping experience — from the initial product discovery and research phase to the final checkout process — takes place right on the social media platform. Currently, the only platforms that allow social commerce are Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Why Your Brand Should Engage in Social Commerce

Researchers at Accenture are expecting the social commerce industry to grow to an astounding $1.2 trillion globally by 2025. The Millennials and Gen Z market will account for almost two-thirds of that $1.2 spend, giving businesses an ideal opportunity to break into new markets that they may not have focused on before.

There’s a good reason why social commerce is growing three times as fast as ecommerce. Social commerce simplifies the shopping experience and makes it much more social, as well as interactive, creating ideal shopping opportunities right on the digital platforms that your audience uses the most. And that is precisely why you should be taking advantage of them!

Say you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and see a pair of boots that you’ve simply got to have this instant. You can hit “shop now” and effortlessly complete the purchase right there in the app. Once your purchase is finished, you can continue right back to scrolling through your Instagram feed without missing a beat.

Consumers shopping on social media have a much more interactive shopping experience than a typical ecommerce purchase. Consumers can easily consult with their friends on their purchases using the social media platform’s messaging feature, show off their purchase with a quick selfie post, comment on their friends’ purchases that they see in the news feed, review comments from other shoppers, and directly interact with brands by liking, posting, or messaging.

Social commerce is effectively the new age version of shopping at the mall with friends.

What Does Social Commerce Mean for Affiliate Marketers?

The most recent data from Shopify showed an increase in mobile usage for shopping. Mobile phones accounted for 72% of sales in 2021 versus 28% on desktop, compared to 2020 where 67% of sales were made on mobile and 33% on desktop.

This increasing trend of mobile sales precisely showcases the influence of social commerce on online shopping. As the ever-growing number of affiliates and influencers continue to contribute to mobile social media platforms like Instagram, consumers are turning to their phones and social media now more than ever to make purchases that are heavily influenced.

Another enticing statistic from Shopify’s report is that businesses with affiliate marketing programs achieved higher Average Order Values (AOVs) than their unfortunate counterparts without it.

Average order values increased across the board in 2021 compared to 2020, and affiliate marketers held the throne with the highest AOVs. Shopify saw average cart prices reach $101.20, up from 2020’s Black Friday average of $90.70. However, Refersion’s merchants knocked those AOVs out of the park, with average order values climbing from $107 in 2020 to $138 in 2021.

As social commerce continues its seemingly limitless growth, so will affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is the perfect way for brands and ecommerce businesses to begin their social commerce strategy.

For brands and ecommerce businesses who haven’t experienced their desired holiday shopping results in Q4 of 2021, there’s still plenty of time left in 2022 to jumpstart sales.

If you’re a business that’s looking to fully embrace all that social commerce has to offer, then kick off your affiliate or influencer marketing program now by contacting a Refersion expert today.

Special thanks to our friends at Refersion for their insights on this topic.
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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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