From firing out messages on Snapchat to sharing our lives on Facebook and Instagram, there’s no denying social media plays an ever-increasing role in our daily lives. Yet, according to new PayPal research released today, these same platforms are becoming increasingly key for UK businesses too.
This year, our annual Commerce Index features the views of more than 26,000 consumers and businesses around the world, all aimed at uncovering the latest trends in mobile commerce. It finds that the number of UK businesses selling via social media sites and apps is expected to double over the next six months – meaning shoppers will soon be able to use social media to buy from an extra 600,000 UK retailers.
For the 8.4 million Brits who currently purchase via social media, the findings will no doubt be welcome news. Yet, even with this increase, the UK continues to lag behind the rest of the world in social commerce. Currently, just under a quarter (24%) of British businesses sell via social platforms. This is significantly behind the global average of 35% – a gap the country’s retailers need to close if they’re to compete with competitors outside of the UK and grasp the lucrative opportunity presented by international trade via social channels.
In addition, out of the 11 countries we surveyed, we found UK consumers to have the greatest concerns about mobile purchase security, particularly when it comes to having their financial information linked to their social media accounts. As well as establishing the necessary operational processes to sell via social platforms, businesses must address shoppers’ safety fears, offering trusted, mobile-friendly payment options, such as PayPal, that convince them they can buy quickly and securely.
One British retailer already reaping the rewards of a strong social commerce strategy is Prestige Flowers. As Maryam Ghani of Prestige explains, the company sees social media as its ultimate shop window – a way to reach a wider community of engaged customers and, crucially, allow them to buy right there and then. All while growing their social following and increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases at the same time.
“Letting people shop through social media turns browsers into buyers, winning sales from consumers who are actively searching on channels like Facebook and meaning we’ve fulfilled over 3 million orders since 2011,” she says. “Partnering with PayPal has been an important part of this journey, as having a secure way to complete a purchase has given customers the confidence to shop and pay on social sites – especially when many of these transactions are made on a smartphone.”
Increased sales, a larger online following and enhanced customer relationships. Whatever the social platform, I think we can all agree that that’s the kind of success worth posting about.
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 Office for National Statistics: UK business; activity, size and location, 2 October 2019: https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business/activitysizeandlocation/bulletins/ukbusinessactivitysizeandlocation/2019
 Office for National Statistics: Projected UK adult population for 2018, 8 June 2018: https://www.ons.gov.uk/aboutus/transparencyandgovernance/freedomofinformationfoi/projectedukadultpopulationfor2018
 PayPal 2019 mCommerce Consumer Research, Q10: Business interaction on a mobile device (Security or trust issues: 64%)