Weaving commerce into the fabric of everyday life

Social commerce is creating new opportunities and challenges for brands, retailers and platform companies. It’s set to become a $1.2 trillion wave of change, and businesses need to be ready to take advantage now.

This four-part essay series will explore the social commerce ecosystem and scope out the market opportunity, what makes the social experience unique and how platforms and brands can meet their needs.

About the Research

Accenture Research conducted a series of studies on social commerce to better understand the nature of this opportunity. We designed and fielded an online survey of 10,053 social media users in China, India, Brazil, the US and the UK. The online study was conducted August 12th – September 3rd, 2021. We also conducted in-depth interviews with shoppers and sellers from those same five markets between May 26th and June 2nd, 2021.

Accenture’s social commerce market forecasts were produced using econometric modeling, considering the optimization of consumers’ preferences to accelerate existing market momentum. The social commerce market includes products or services ordered via social networks, regardless of the method of payment or fulfillment, covering B2C and C2C transactions.

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Frequently asked questions

Social commerce is when a person’s entire shopping experience—from product discovery to the check-out process—takes place on a social media platform. 

While the opportunity is significant for large businesses, individuals and smaller brands also stand to benefit. More than half (59%) of social buyers surveyed said they are more likely to support small and medium-sized businesses through social commerce than when shopping through e-commerce websites. 63% said they are more likely to buy from the same seller again, showing the benefits of social commerce in building loyalty and driving repeat purchases.

With the average user now spending 2.5 hours a day on social media, social platforms are rapidly becoming the gateway to the internet for many people: for communication, news, entertainment, etc. Now they’re starting to become a destination for commerce as well. What makes it unique to other forms of digital commerce is the social connections that underpin the experience, whether it be an influencer or brand you follow, or a recommendation from a friend or family member. The authenticity and, therefore, trust that these relationships embody create a different type of influence, engagement, and ultimately, a different type of experience that’s in increasingly high demand from today’s shoppers. 

Social Commerce growth is predicted to be driven primarily by Gen Z and Millennial social media users, accounting for 62% of global social commerce spend by 2025. However, all age groups are using social commerce.

The best Social Commerce strategies are those that are led by consumer-first thinking. By identifying the platforms on which your consumers are engaging, you have identified your Social Commerce platform(s) to consider.

China is a mobile-first society, where many individuals went straight to mobile without ever purchasing computers, which means a greater number of older Asian users are present on social media platforms than in the West.

In addition, Asia is home to what could be described as "super apps" — major platforms that serve as one-stop hubs for various needs ranging from social media and messaging to payments, shopping, and travel. This makes it much easier for Asian users to adopt social commerce.

This isn’t the case in the West, where users rely on multiple individual apps and integration features for their various needs, which means adoption of social commerce hasn’t been as fast.

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