E-commerce penetration enjoyed over 10 years’ worth of growth in the first three months of the pandemic, with social media playing a significant role in connecting consumers online.

Over the last decade, digital was seen as a support layer. But now, digital has become the primary space where culture happens. When emerging user behaviors start the wheels of change and are amplified on social media, brands must recognize these new opportunities and build relationships.

The spirit of always-on commerce is being able to adapt to these cultural changes and platform features as soon as they happen. For example, direct messages on social channels serve as a 24/7 support channel. Meanwhile, social platforms are introducing shoppable formats such as Instagram Shops or Pinterest’s Product Pins. Agility is key to evolving.

Here are four ways brands can adapt to the always-on commerce:

  1. Make meaningful moments. Transparency goes a long way here: answer people’s questions in video or stories, or invite them into the brand process by sharing an inside look at the packaging of orders.
  2. Engage with communities. New privacy restrictions and the deprecation of third-party data could make the shopping journey challenging to follow. But insight into subcultures, fandoms and other digital communities will prove valuable to design new business, marketing and communication strategies. 
  3. Experiment with new platforms. The new flagship experience is happening in environments like the Metaverse and gaming. Awareness of new formats and technologies will help meet emerging shopping needs.
  4. Look at what’s worked in China. Chinese e-commerce transactions accounted for nearly 45% of global retail sales in 2020, with projected to further. Live commerce, short video platforms and chat programs are all spaces to build relationships and sell—and brands can learn a thing or two from the China experience.