Online shopping has grown along with the web over the years. Initially, the internet was more fixed in nature and only an educated few created content there. Now, anyone can publish content onto the internet and it’s grown into a living, thriving worldwide community.

In 2018, social media platforms provide people with a sizable audience of more than 3 billion social media users and an easy way to present and share information with their fellow users. These same social media platforms have been widely recognized by retail brands as an effective way to engage with consumers and get people talking about their brand. Retail has realized there’s a new frontier with social media and they can market effectively using this medium. Here are a few of the impacts social media has had on retail.

Builds relationships between consumers and retailers

Social networks gives brands a way to build relationships with millions of potential consumers and talk directly to them. With the number of online shoppers projected to go as high as 2.14 billion by 2021, retailers know a lot is at stake. It’s important to harness the power of social media and do it well. Whether they use a page on Facebook or post consistently on Instagram, brands have access to millions of people who can view and share their content. Establishing this relationship is an important step toward actual transactions.

Social communities form

When people gather around similar passions and interests, social communities form. According to data from a Deloitte study, nearly half of the shopping decisions of millennials are influenced by social media. According to the same study, almost one in three consumers in the U.S., are influenced by social media in buying decisions. With such a potential reach, social communities are definitely worth a marketer’s time to explore.

Communication improved

When it comes to online shopping, a consumer was likely to contact the company through email about a purchase only if something went wrong with the buying process or the receipt of the final product. Now, social media has opened up a new line of communication between consumer and retailer in a way that’s appealing. Social media lets people state their opinions, good and bad, about the products and services they received. Both can work to a retailer’s advantage if they are wise. If criticisms are handled well, such interactions may only serve to instill even more confidence that the retailers is one you can trust.

Social media is here to stay and it will be interesting to see how its natural partnership with online commerce continues to develop. If they haven’t already, wise retailers and brands will start developing social commerce strategies. The number of online shoppers and purchases continues, making the partnership of brands and social media a value marketing tool.