Digital transformation in retail

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Social media ads continue to be at the core of many brands’ online strategy. With technology continuing to evolve every day, social media platforms are striving to offer the most cutting-edge ad solutions that have the greatest impact on the bottom line. Shoppable social media content has become a way for brands to offer a more immersive and organic experience online, while maximizing sales of their products.

Instagram became the first major platform to feature shoppable posts, allowing brands to tag their items in photos and link to an online store where they can be purchased. This created a more direct connection between influencers and the products they promote or use, making it easier for users to find and purchase them. Originally only available in the US, this feature was introduced into eight new markets this past Spring, including Canada and the UK. Compatibility with Instagram Stories was also added on in June, creating even more opportunities for product promotion. Shoppable stories are marked with a shopping bag icon, redirecting users to a site where the featured products can be purchased. This new addition is only available to a select few brands currently, including Adidas, Artizia, and Louis Vuitton. This feature is free as of now, but it remains to be seen how Instagram may monetize it in future.

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, recently started to step up its ad game by introducing shoppable augmented reality (AR) ads this month. The new feature is being tested with Michael Kors, allowing users to try on sunglasses virtually before purchasing them. They can also share a photo or video of their experience with friends. Ads for cosmetics giant Sephora and Wayfair, an interior design company, will be rolled out later this Summer. These AR ads have the potential to make advertising fun for consumers while giving them the chance to try before they buy, a major limitation of online shopping.

To compete with the social media empire helmed by Facebook, Snapchat has introduced their own form of shoppable ads. Users can swipe up on ads and buy the product without leaving the Snapchat app, eliminating the need to go to a different site and potentially have customers lose interest. They also give brands the opportunity to create shoppable AR filters, featuring custom brand content and a “Shop Now” button. Snapchat’s creative advertising solutions have been resonating with brands, slowly gaining higher percentages of their advertising budgets.

With in-person shopping dying down, online ads will continue to become a main focus for brands looking to keep up with the 21st century consumer. The race continues to create online ad opportunities that resonate with consumers without getting in their way, and the competition between social media platforms will force continuous innovation.