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What you'll learn:

  • Top social commerce methods to sell products
  • How to train your customers to shop on social
  • Social media requirements to get started
  • The equipment list you'll need to host professional live sales
  • New roles and responsibilities to consider
  • Tips for choosing an online payment processor
  • Best practices for managing online inventory
  • Streamlining shipping & fulfillment of online orders

 

Who this guide is for:

  • Brick & mortar retailers transitioning to online sales channels
  • Retailers that want to connect and sell on social media
  • Online retailers just getting started
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SECTION I

INTRO TO SOCIAL COMMERCE

Understand how easy it is to sell on social and why it matters.


 

Meet customers where they are already spending their time: social media. With social commerce, you can sell to 1.62 billion daily Facebook users and 500 million daily Instagram users.

Retailers are harnessing the full power of social platforms by turning to comment selling as the best way to captivate new customers, increase engagement, and generate more revenue. 

This social commerce strategy combines social media and e-commerce by allowing customers to shop through comments on Facebook or Instagram. Shoppers purchase by commenting "sold" on your social posts or Facebook Live video and check out straight from their newsfeeds.

You can accelerate online growth and deliver the same personal interaction shoppers find in brick and mortar stores at scale on social media. All while building social validation for your brand!

 

Top Social Selling Methods

Comment selling allows retailers to transform their social media posts, both images and videos, into shoppable content. Using a mix of each type will attract different customers based on their preferences. Below is a quick overview of the top kinds of social selling posts so you can familiarize yourself with your options and start planning your posting strategy.

1. Static Images

Static images are photo posts that feature your products. Examples of these posts are styled selfies, flat lays, or model photos. Use a single image to highlight one item, or use a multi-item collage to sell an entire look.

2. Facebook Live Video

Facebook Live Sales are, without a doubt, the most popular form of comment selling. When retailers consistently conduct live video sales, they typically see an increase in ROI, customer loyalty, and customer acquisition.

Shoppers love tuning into live sales hosted by their favorite brand personalities. Facebook Live video introduces a two-way conversation while adding the excitement and urgency of real-time sales! Customers won't want to miss out on fast-selling items.

3. Pre-Recorded Video

Pre-recorded videos can either be short or long-form content! You record these ahead of time, then upload them to your social media page. Take a look at the different ways you can use pre-recorded videos to show off your products and engage your audience.

Fit Videos

Fit videos, also known as style videos, are 15-30 second videos that show off a short styling session. These videos demonstrate the look, feel, and fit of clothing. Since social shoppers can't try on clothes ahead of time, they love that these videos help them see how items look on someone in real life before purchasing.

Fit videos are also an excellent opportunity to announce something special like a deal of the day, VIP exclusive, or an entire styled look. By curating a look, you can cross-sell items through this short, digestible content.

Shop the Replay

Just because your customers missed your live sale doesn't mean they can't go back to shop it. Once a Facebook Live sale has ended, Facebook allows you to keep the video on your page or group feed. That way, customers can "shop the replay" just like they would with any other pre-recorded video. All they'll need to do is follow your instructions on how to comment.

Facebook Watch Parties

Facebook Watch Party is a feature exclusive to Facebook groups. Group administrators can hold a live screening of any pre-recorded video that is publicly available on Facebook. You can host a Watch Party with a showing of your last live sale, or stitch together a playlist of recent fit videos.

The benefit of Watch Parties is that it drums up more engagement on already existing content when you replay videos. Watch Parties will trigger notifications to group members when they begin. Your audience can still comment, like, and share in real-time, just like Facebook Live.

Facebook Premieres

Facebook Premieres are very similar to Watch Parties. The main difference is that Premieres allows you to host a pre-recorded video not already hosted on Facebook. With Premieres, you can film live sales on your time and schedule whenever you want.

 

RELATED READING

The Complete Guide to Live Sales
Get the most up-to-date and comprehensive guide to conducting Facebook Live Sales. Learn how to get people watching, what equipment to use, checklists to run smoothly & professionally.

 

Train Your Customers to Shop on Social

Ready to launch your social commerce venture? To be successful, first, you have to introduce this new way of comment shopping to your customers.

The concept of buying through comments is only a few years old; therefore, retailers should not expect everyone to know about it. Some shoppers may already be familiar, while others may not be up-to-speed with how it works. If you plan to use this revolutionary way of selling, you must train your customers on how to shop with you.

CommentSold has compiled a step by step guide with advice from the experts to help you train your customers, fast!

Plan & Build Hype

Ashley, CommentSold's Onboarding Specialist, says the key to making comment selling work is customer education. "It is critical. Whether you spend two weeks advertising and talking about how to use CommentSold OR if you go all-in with no warning, you need to tell your audience how to use the system."

Though it's possible to jump straight into your first live sale, we recommend introducing it slowly. Take 2-3 weeks to fully incorporate comment selling into your shopping experience. This gives you time for necessary behind the scenes work and will help you notice any pitfalls along the way. It also builds anticipation with your customers!

To build hype, make several teaser posts that imply something big is coming leading up to the event. You can get your audience involved by offering an exclusive coupon code, a chance to win store credit, or a giveaway for an item for those who join you live. 

Finally, before you "go live" and introduce comment selling to your shoppers, come up with a script that includes this essential information: 

  • How they register with CommentSold
  • How to comment to make a purchase
  • How the checkout process will work
  • Why they should allow Facebook Messenger notifications

Launch Social Commerce with a Live Video

We recommend launching comment selling with a live announcement on your social media account(s). If you have a Facebook page and a Facebook group, CommentSold will even allow you to broadcast live on both at the same time for maximum exposure.

Before you go live, test your technology and your internet connection. You will need a minimum upload speed of 5Mbps, but ideally, you will have at least 10Mbps before broadcasting.

We recommend opening your live stream with some small talk. This gives your customers some time to jump on. Make sure you project a lot of energy. If you're excited, they will be too!

After your introduction and once you're happy with the number of viewing audience members, you can let the cat out of the bag. With a script in hand, you're prepared to tell your customers everything they need to know to shop. Your goal is to get customers registered with CommentSold.

Drop your shop URL with basic instructions in the comments below your live video to get them started, then pin the same thing as a new post to the top of your page and group. From here, you can proceed with the script you created earlier.

Maintain and Build Engagement

The work isn't over after you launch! It takes consistency in your posting and responses to maintain and build engagement. You will likely have some questions pop up on your video long after the broadcast is over. Don't forget to continue to check the comments on the launch post and all your subsequent posts, and address them quickly. Your customers may need a little encouragement before they fully embrace this new method of purchasing.

Follow these steps to keep your customers shopping:

  • Continue to be available and helpful on your social media accounts
  • Be consistent with education on how to comment shop
  • Provide easily available written instructions on all your outlets
  • Post regularly at the same time of day
  • Check and respond to your comments


RELATED READING

The Ultimate Guide to Introducing Comment Shopping to Your Community
Learn how to teach your customers to shop through comments quickly. Get over 16 pages of best practices to help you launch your comment selling strategy successfully.

 


 
 SECTION II

REQUIREMENTS

New tools and processes to conquer social commerce.


 

 

Use Your Business Social Media Accounts

Before you begin, there are a few steps to take. First and foremost, you must choose where you'll be selling.

While you can sell on Instagram and Facebook, you may want to commit to one channel to start to be able to focus your limited resources. To help you determine which channel is a priority, ask yourself questions like: What is your target audience? Which platform can you typically find them on?

If you already have a Facebook or Instagram business account, you may already know the answer to this. If you're creating social media business accounts from scratch, though, take a look at the stats on what demographics you can find on each.

Facebook Users 

  • 183 million Facebook users in the US
  • 75% of females and 63% of males use Facebook
  • 76% of people ages 18 - 24 use Facebook
  • 84% of people ages 25 - 30 use Facebook
  • 79% of people ages 30 - 45 use Facebook
  • 68% of people ages 50 - 64 use Facebook

Instagram Users

  • 120 million Instagram users in the US.
  • 43% of females and 31% of males use Instagram
  • 75% of people ages 18 - 24 use Instagram
  • 57% of people ages 25 - 30 use Instagram
  • 47% of people ages 30 - 49 use Instagram
  • 23% of people ages 50 - 64 use Instagram

As Instagram's usage is rising in popularity, its number of daily logins remains only second to Facebook's. Many retailers start with Facebook because it is the most widely and frequently used social media platform. Plus, you can use both a Facebook page and a Facebook group.

Facebook Requirements

To sell on Facebook, you must have a Facebook business page. Facebook pages are free, public profiles meant for businesses, brands, and organizations to share their stories and connect with their fans or customers.

While it is not necessary to have a Facebook group, you can also use these to sell. Many businesses use these to form a more exclusive community around their brand and give special perks to loyal customers who join the group.

Instagram Requirements

Just like with Facebook, you can set up a free public account for your business on Instagram. If you already have a personal Instagram account that you've been using for your business, you can easily switch it over to a business profile in the account settings.

Community Guidelines for Facebook & Instagram

When selling on either channel, be sure to follow the community guidelines for each. 

Facebook and Instagram's primary goal is to remain a safe and authentic platform for connection and inspiration. That is why they have created rules about what you can sell and how you can communicate. Nobody wants to be spammed! 

If you violate their guidelines, you can be temporarily blocked and possibly banned altogether. This is known as Facebook jail. Learn everything you need to know about Facebook jail and how to avoid it here.

 

RELATED READING:

How to Create A Facebook Business Page for Your Boutique
Ready to get started with this powerful tool? Take these steps to make an inviting and easily discoverable Facebook business page for your brand.

10 Easy Steps to Create an Instagram Business Account!
Know the difference between a personal and a business Instagram account and get our step-by-step guide to creating your business account today.

A Guide to Creating a Facebook Group for Your Boutique
In this article, we'll take a look at the differences between a Facebook group and a page, defining your business's group goals, and how to set up your very own.

Everything You Need to Know about Facebook Jail
This guide will help you understand what Facebook Jail is, how long it lasts, and provide tips to avoid it in the future.

 

Equipment Needed to Sell on Social Media

Now that you know why you should be selling on social media, especially through live video, let's talk about what kind of hardware and equipment you need. Luckily, getting started doesn't take much more than a smartphone, but you can add a few more items to get a professional set up, too.

Smartphone

You don't have to have a fancy camera to take model photos or film your live when a smartphone will do. We recommend purchasing an iPhone to dedicate to live sales if you plan on hosting them regularly.

Laptop

Having a laptop next to you to monitor incoming comments and organize your inventory is key to things running smoothly.

Lightning to Ethernet Adapter

The two most common interruptions of live sales are dying devices and slow internet. An all-in-one Lightning to Ethernet adapter will solve both of these problems, allowing you to use a secure internet connection while charging your device.

Ring Light

High-quality lighting is what makes the difference between your products shining or looking lackluster. You won't regret investing in a ring light. A huge bonus is that it is also flattering for anyone who will be in the video. We recommend the Neewer 20-inch because it has dimmable lights for perfect lighting and a built-in device holder.

Tripod

Say no to shaky videos! Make sure watching your videos is enjoyable for viewers by stabilizing your smartphone with a tripod. Some ring lights have this included.

Backdrop

Eliminate clutter and keep the focus on your products with a backdrop. Create a professional shopping experience that fits your brand.

Models or Mannequins

There's one thing that live sales can't do—allow shoppers to try on clothes. You can mitigate that drawback by having size-inclusive models show how outfits drape on an average human body. If you don't have models available, mannequins will work in a pinch.

Purchasing Instructors

85% of Facebook video is watched without sound! That's where purchasing instructors come in. If your customer wants to buy NOW, don't let anything stop them. The CommentSold Live Overlay displays clear purchasing instructions in a bubble above your talent, so shoppers know how to buy immediately.

If you don't have the Live Overlay, you will need to use identifier tags and still instruct customers to type "sold" before an identifying number. You can DIY these with some card stock and a laminator, or you can purchase them premade.

Auto-Invoicing Software

Next, you need a way to allow customers to check out. You could collect all their email addresses, shipping details, tally their purchases, and send them the invoice when you're finished going live.

OR you could invest in auto-invoicing software (like CommentSold!) that allows customers to register with an account where they input their email and shipping information. The software will then automatically tally their purchases and send them an invoice to pay via Messenger or email.

That covers the essentials of going live successfully!

 

RELATED READING

CommentSold's Live Sale Equipment Checklist

We asked thousands of CommentSold users what equipment they can't live without and compiled the results. Download the checklist and keep it handy.

Going Live: All You Need to Get Started and Go Pro

Got the essentials down pat? There are some upgrades listed in this blog article if you're ready to level up. You can also access purchase links for the exact products we recommend.

8 Tips for Shooting Spectacular Live Video on Your Smartphone

Producing quality live video doesn't have to be complicated. With these tips, you can sell like a pro with noticeably better quality.

 

New Roles & Responsibilities

When you first bring your business online, you may be the only employee to run that side of your business. As you grow your online orders, it will eventually take more work, and you can start to delegate tasks and build your team. However, it can be challenging to choose where to begin assigning tasks to others.

Brandon Kruse, CEO of CommentSold, suggests evaluating your duties as a boutique owner first and foremost. "As a business owner, the most valuable thing you can do for your business is revenue-generating activities and making sure you buy the right inventory and have enough of it. Then you can delegate out fulfillment, intake, photos, finance, accounting, and compliance."

It's not necessary to hire a dozen different people when you start out. Your first employees will probably play many roles. In the beginning, someone who is your assistant may also be your model or fulfillment specialist. Virtual assistants are another option many boutiques lean on to help with a variety of day to day tasks involved with online selling.

Here are the typical categories to consider planning for and the roles we've seen growing online retailers fill to ensure each area of responsibility is covered.

Back End Operations

Intake Processor

Intake processors are responsible for weighing items and applying SKU numbers or barcoding products. They may also assign warehouse locations by entering bin or shelf numbers, which will later help with order processing.

Order Fulfillment Specialist

Order fulfillment specialists, also known as pick packers, assist with processing orders. This role is absolutely necessary once you begin to sell online. They are responsible for gathering items, packing orders, and fulfilling them.

Most small business owners choose to delegate this job first since it is an entry-level job that any able-bodied worker can do.

Marketing

E-commerce Manager

An e-commerce manager's job is to oversee and carry out strategic marketing for the e-commerce side of your business. Often, they are heavily involved with creating a marketing vision for websites, content, and advertising.

As you grow your business online, it might become necessary to hire an experienced specialist for this role. However, as you build your team from scratch, this person will likely be you and/or a business partner.

Photographer & Videographer

Not everyone needs an exclusive job title for this. Many times, this responsibility is shared between a few different people. This is typical because it usually requires collaboration between the business owner, models, and social media coordinators. 

As long as your employee can create clear, appealing images and videos that clearly show off product details, nearly anyone can do this job.

Web Designer

Though you don't need a website to get started with comment selling, we recommend adding it to your arsenal of selling channels. (Plus, you get one free with CommentSold!) 

Since the CommentSold Webstore is easy to set up, most people can design their own without the help of an expert. However, if you're short on time or prefer to delegate to someone who is more website savvy, you should consider outsourcing this task to a web designer.

Model & Stylist

Lots of boutique owners start out as their brand's only model. This is excellent for personal branding and building familiarity. However, as your business grows, so will your to-do list. It helps to have another model on hand. Plus, models can assist you in running much smoother, better performing Facebook Live Sales.

Social Media Coordinator

Social media coordinators are one of the most vital employees you can have when bringing your business to social media. Social media success depends on consistent posting, and managing social accounts can be a time suck, not to mention overwhelming, for many business owners.

A social media coordinator can help you consistently post content and engage with customers. Social media coordinators should understand how to schedule content and inventory to post on both Facebook and Instagram.

Customer Service Rep

Between emails, live website chat, social media comments, and social inboxes, there is plenty of customer communication to stay on top of. 

Like an order fulfillment specialist, customer service reps are one of the roles that you should be filling first. Not only do they free up your time drastically, but they can significantly enhance the customer experience.

Finance

Bookkeeper

Many business owners may choose to take this on themselves. However, if you're one of those that find themselves struggling with this task, hire someone to take care of it right away.

Now that you're adding more sales channels and revenue streams, you'll need to consider them in your P&L and cash flow statements. Moreover, these records will keep you out of trouble when tax season rolls around.

If you use CommentSold, you will be provided with detailed reporting plus a free Avalara account to help you or your accountant with calculating and monitoring economic nexus thresholds.

 

RELATED READING

Key Positions and Roles to Hire for Your Growing Online Boutique
Wondering who to hire for your growing online boutique? Get an in-depth look at the typical roles & positions for growing e-commerce businesses to help you decide.

11 Important Skills and Traits to Look for in a Social Media Coordinator
Social media coordinators play a vital role in representing your brand on social media. Look for these 11 skills & traits for this new role.

 

Online Payment Processors

If you aren't already using an online payment processor, you will need to set one up to be able to start selling online.

With CommentSold, you can use a combination of Stripe, Square, and/or PayPal. All three of these are relatively easy to set up, so you can choose which one works best for your business.

CommentSold users have found that Stripe and PayPal are the easiest to work with, but Square isn't impossible. The difference with Square is that you will need to create a developers API token.

Shoppers like the flexibility of being able to choose to check out with their preferred payment processor. For this reason, consider offering more than one option.

Note: It is essential to know that Square and Stripe can't be used together. However, Stripe and Paypal or Square and PayPal work well as payment processor pairings.

What's great is your customers only have to put in their payment information once at registration with CommentSold. After that, all purchases through CommentSold will go straight to the cart for one-click checkout!

Our Recommendation

We recommend using Stripe to take full advantage of CommentSold features like waitlist authorization.

CommentSold's waitlist authorization feature allows shoppers to pre-authorize their credit cards. Then, when an item on their waitlist comes back in stock, they are automatically charged.

They immediately jump to the front of the waitlist when they authorize their card, giving them first dibs when the item becomes available. The shopper then has a predetermined amount of time to check out before it goes to the next person in line.

Features like this are what make shopping with CommentSold fun and addicting.

Offer Buy Now, Pay Later Options 

Using a buy now, pay later (BNPL) option like Sezzle will help boost your sales by increasing average order value and reducing cart abandonment.

BNPL is a checkout option where retailers can offer their customers financing options. That way, customers can receive their items right away while budgeting their purchases. For retailers, Sezzle assumes the risk of the customer so that retailers get paid upfront without the worry of fraud or non-payment.

CommentSold has an easy-to-set-up integration with Sezzle, the leading BNPL payment gateway in the US. Payments are interest-free and typically made over with four installments over six weeks.

Sezzle's benefits extend far beyond facilitating transactions. Their flexible payments consider buyer psychology and mobile shopping behaviors that can give you more benefits than you can imagine.

 

RELATED READING

Why Sezzle Is the Top Buy Now, Pay Later Option for Online Boutiques
Read more about how the BNPL option, Sezzle, works to offer budget-friendly payment options, helping you reach a broader demographic of shoppers.

 

Inventory Management

If you have inventory on hand, you might be wondering how to sell it through social media while also keeping your physical storefront or website synced. We will talk about a couple of methods for keeping all inventory organized.

First, keep in mind that one way to make your social commerce launch easier is to ask your wholesaler for product images. If you don’t have the resources to capture your own product shots like flat lays or live model images, don’t let that keep you from getting started. Wholesalers will have photos of their inventory that they should be able to share with you. You can then use those photos on your eCommerce website and in your shoppable social posts.

Now let’s dive into your options for inventory management!

1. Connect Inventories Via Integrations

If you already use Lightspeed POS or Shopify, CommentSold you'll have a head start at bringing inventory into your CommentSold account. You can use either to connect your inventory and orders from your physical storefronts, e-commerce website, and your social media sales.

Shopify

Though it's not necessary to have a Shopify account to use CommentSold, some retailers use it to connect their point of sale system. Doing this will keep inventories synchronized between your Shopify website and/or your storefront.

Lightspeed POS

If you're already a Lightspeed user, you're in luck. With this integration, you'll be able to transfer the inventory you want to sell on your Facebook or Instagram. Contact your Lightspeed representative to get started with CommentSold. 

2. Keep Separate Inventories

You don’t have to have a POS integration, however. Many retailers choose to use separate inventories between their brick and mortar stores and their social selling channels.

This method is especially useful when in-store items become aged, and you need to sell them quickly. By taking that inventory out of your brick and mortar store and placing it into CommentSold, you can easily track it and sell quickly through flash sales on Facebook Live. We also see retailers buying new inventory that is exclusive to their social selling channels.

As you get started, it isn’t necessary to input a huge amount of inventory into CommentSold. You can keep your workload manageable by only adding a small collection of products at a time. This also allows you to tap into scarcity and urgency marketing tactics. If you launch social shopping with a carefully curated, exclusive collection only available on social media, your customers will be motivated to join your live and shop with you so they don’t miss out.

 

RELATED READING

Trusted Wholesalers Guide
Looking for wholesale vendor recommendations? Get access to a full list of trusted vendors for clothing, jewelry, and more.

 

Shipping & Fulfillment

If you are new to online shipping, you'll want to pick a tool that makes shipping simple. CommentSold Shipping makes it easy:

  1. Print
    CommentSold generates packing lists and labels for all your orders.

  2. Pick
    Your auto-generated pick lists can include product location and are optimized for speed.

  3. Pack
    Next, your team will pack up the orders and attach the batch printed labels.

  4. Ship
    Once shipped, we'll automatically send your shoppers a message with tracking info.

BOPIS

Buy online pick up in-store (aka BOPIS) is a powerful shipping tool for brick & mortars. BOPIS boosts brick and mortar foot traffic, can increase average order value, foregoes delivery wait times and costs, and can significantly enhance the customer experience. It's the perfect way to blend both online and physical channels, where they can strengthen one another.


RELATED READING

How BOPIS is Giving Brick & Mortars a Winning Edge
BOPIS integrates digital and traditional channels to satisfy modern customers’ expectations. See why BOPIS is essential for brick & mortar storefronts.

 


 
SECTION III

Get Started

Are you ready to dive into social commerce?


 

There's never been a better time to expand your business online and start selling through social media.

With these tips, you'll have all you need to set up a completely seamless shopping experience across your brick and mortar storefront, social media, and eCommerce website.

Let's do this!

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