Ecommerce and social media. If you’re someone who spends a significant portion of your day online, then you’re probably familiar with both. They’re completely separate entities- you use one to interact with family and friends and the other to make online purchase….or are they? In the early days of the internet, retail businesses could get by with traditional advertising methods like ads in the paper and billboards, but in a world dominated by social media, no business can ignore its presence.

Retail has an enormous impact on the U.S. economy. According to a report from the National Retail Federation and American Express, it contributes $2.6 trillion annually to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Ecommerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales in the United States is on a steady incline, representing 8.5% of total retail sales in March 2017, up from 8.2% in December. The number of internet shoppers in the US is expected to reach 217 million this year. Likewise, a 2017 survey found that 81% of the U.S. population has at least one social media account compared to just 24% in 2008. It only makes sense that these two powerful, rapidly growing forces would share a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship.

Here are some of the ways that ecommerce businesses are utilizing social media to leverage their sales and how social media is benefitting as a result with increased traffic.

Paid Advertisements

Paid social media advertising is a win-win for both parties. According to Entrepreneur, “The most successful brands in 2017 will be those able to maximize their reach and effectiveness on paid social media advertising.” At the same time, social networks make a profit off these advertisements. Facebook grossed more than $7 billion in paid advertisements in 2016.  

Private Messaging

Through private messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, retailers can bring their advertisements directly before customers where they will not be able to ignore them. Some may argue that this method is invasive, but through chatbots, businesses can make themselves more available to customers to address their questions and complaints, and offer recommendations. Many private messaging services now offer financial integration allowing consumers to purchase a product without closing out of the app.

In-App Purchases

As technology becomes more advanced, convenience and efficiency are key considerations. Rather than having to navigate to a new site that may have a slow loading speed, customers are turning to social media to make purchases at the tap of a finger. Many social media sites, such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are doubling as ecommerce sites by cutting out the middleman and allowing users to purchase directly through social media.