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Dynamics 365 powers social shopping needs with headless commerce

Over the last 15 years, social media has grown rapidly, both in reach and in impact on our daily lives. Facebook reached one billion users worldwide in 2012, only eight years after launch, and has approximately 2.89 billion active users today. Instagram boasts nearly 140 million active users, while 100 million people enjoy TikTok.1 Beyond…

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Over the last 15 years, social media has grown rapidly, both in reach and in impact on our daily lives. Facebook reached one billion users worldwide in 2012, only eight years after launch, and has approximately 2.89 billion active users today. Instagram boasts nearly 140 million active users, while 100 million people enjoy TikTok.1 Beyond their reach, users spend an exorbitant amount of time on social media, with 62 percent of users spending an hour or more on social media a day and 30 percent spending more than two hours.2

Whether engaging with influencers on live-streaming video platforms or viewing short-form videos on Tiktok, social media has revolutionized the way we connect with each other. They have also changed how we discover and engage with brands, unlocking new opportunities for businesses to engage with customers. And with the emergence of social commerce, they’re opening a new channel through which customers can buy products from retailers.

While the concept of linking to a product page within a social media post has been status quo for some time, consumers prefer a seamless experience that won’t disrupt their consumption. Enter social commerce, which can be thought of as the extension of the shopping experience to the realm of social media. With social commerce, users can see an item on a social media platform and purchase it without leaving the channel.

According to Statista, the value of social commerce sales worldwide in 2021 was an estimated $732 billion and is projected to grow to $2.9 trillion by 2026.3 The continued growth of social media and the coming rise of social commerce will allow companies to add new revenue streams by meeting their customers on the platforms they prefer. The opportunity is not, however, without challenges and brand leaders need to understand how the right technology solutions can help them on their social commerce journey.

Given the vast audiences that social media can reach, it makes sense that businesses first gravitated to social media primarily as a means of building awareness for their brand. Today, more and more brands are moving beyond awareness by embracing shoppable Facebook pages and Instagram posts, and the reason is clear: in 2021, 63 percent of social media users reported that posts by a brand or company were very/somewhat influential in their purchasing decisions, according to Sprout Social.4

In addition to making purchases through social media platforms, the forms of media that brands are using to engage consumers are expanding, as well. For example, live-streaming, which draws audiences by combining live entertainment with the ability to purchase directly in a platform, has taken off in China. Given the direct-to-consumer benefits, live-streaming will likely be a hit in other markets soon.

These trends point clearly to the need for brands to be able to offer content across multiple social media platforms and multiple media types to keep up with their customer’s buying preferences. The challenge for many organizations will be overcoming the constraints of their legacy commerce solutions to capitalize on this evolution.  

Headless commerce

As omnichannel retail took flight around 2010, retailers came to realize that the first-generation e-commerce platforms were not agile enough to keep pace with the evolution of shoppers’ needs. Whether in-store or online, today’s shoppers want consistent messaging, seamless and sensory experiences across devices, and personalized customer service. Plus, they want unprecedented levels of convenience—all points we’ve discussed in previous blog posts.

Now, with the rise of social commerce, retailers face an increased proliferation of customer touchpoints, such as offering the ability to purchase a product via an influencer’s TikTok video, through a shoppable post on Instagram, or in the virtual world presented in AR/VR. Each of these touchpoints can be thought of as a different “front-end” experience that “back-end” systems, such as content management systems (CMS) and traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, must serve and connect to enable social commerce.

Delivering social commerce to multiple front-ends in this manner is challenging for organizations that are unable to leverage a single CMS or are still utilizing monolithic, content-led commerce architectures. Headless commerce solves these challenges by disconnecting the front-end experiences from the back-end systems that enable them. In this way, headless solutions give retailers the ability to provide features like platform-specific content and layout management, personalization, content testing, and analytics. Social commerce enables an organization to deploy content on multiple social media platforms (front-end) while still utilizing the same back-end systems to complete transactions. Not only does this simplify management by bringing all commerce-related activities into a single solution, but it also gives retailers the agility necessary to compete in a future of social commerce.

What’s next?

New social channels and customer touchpoints will continue to evolve and develop, and brands need new digital commerce approaches—such as headless commerce—to provide the agility required to adapt to a fast-moving marketplace.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce is a modern, intelligent, and modular solution that can help organizations consistently deliver great customer experiences on any social channel or front-end application. This is because Dynamics 365 Commerce can utilize both headless and other modern commerce architectures to seamlessly connect enterprise systems, such as payment processing, content management, and omnichannel inventory. By connecting and unifying every facet of the customer journey, businesses are well-positioned to embrace social commerce experiences across established and emerging channels, giving them the ability to meet their customers where they are and purchase there too.

To see how Dynamics 365 Commerce can help your brand succeed in social commerce and beyond, we invite you to get started with Dynamics 365 Commerce free trial today.

Sources:

1- Statista, 2021. Most popular social networks worldwide as of October 2021.

2- GWI, 2021. USA Survey.

3- Statista, 2021. Social Commerce.

4- Sprout Social, 2021. The state of social media investment: Five key takeaways for European businesses.

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Facebook: Recognizing Global Accessibility Awareness Day

As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page…

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As an avid outdoor enthusiast and firefighter, Carly P. has always loved being active. After a life-changing injury paralyzed her from the waist down, she felt lost. Carly recaptured her passion for being outside and found a community of people like her through the nonprofit organization Catalyst Sports. Now, she uses Catalyst Sports’ Facebook page to spread awareness and share local recreational opportunities for people with physical disabilities.

In addition to providing community to people with disabilities, we’re also working to make the digital world more accessible. 

We will demonstrate our latest accessibility features today at our annual Accessibility Summit. Join us at 10:00AM PT for this livestream on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page. In addition to product demos and updates, we will host an interview with Molly Burke, a digital creator and blind advocate.

Through a video series on the Meta Accessibility Facebook Page, we’re highlighting how people with disabilities connect and build communities through our technologies, much like Carly. We’ve created both the captioned and audio described versions of these stories.

Today, we’re recapping advances we’ve made over the past year to make our technologies more inclusive. 

Meta Quest

  • Audio Accessibility
    • Audio balance: This option enables you to adjust the balance of the left and right audio channels for comfort, and to better match your ability to hear in each ear. 
    • Mono Audio enables you to hear the same audio from both the left and right speakers on your headset. 
    • You’ll find both features under the Accessibility tab in your headset’s Settings menu.

Product mock of audio accessibility on Meta Quest

  • Adjust Height  
    • This feature allows you to experience VR from a “standing” vantage point even while reclining or seated. This can improve the VR experience for people who use wheelchairs, have limited mobility or are unable to use the Quest headset while standing. 
    • We first introduced this as an experimental feature (called Raise View) last June and have now made it permanent after receiving positive feedback from the disability community. 
    • You can find this feature in the Accessibility tab in Quest’s Settings menu.

Portal

  • Video relay service (VRS)
    • In December, we began supporting video relay service (VRS) applications on Portal  for people who use American Sign Language (ASL), through a collaboration with ZP Better Together.
    • Through the ZP apps on Portal and human interpreters, people who use American Sign Language can now easily communicate in both English and Spanish. 
    • Portal’s unique AI-powered camera always keeps you in frame and in focus, even when you’re moving, so your face and hands can always be seen.
  • Captions
    • We’ve also added customizable closed captions for streamed content on TV and Touch, as well as added support for live captions into integrated work productivity apps Zoom and Workplace Live.

Instagram

  • Auto-generated captions for Feed videos
    • In March, we introduced auto-generated captions for Feed videos on iOS and Android in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Turkish, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, Urdu, Malay, Hindi and Japanese to start. 
    • More importantly, captions are automatically turned on by default when a creator uploads a video to their Feed. Over 140 million videos were created with auto-generated captions in the last 30 days.
    • Creators retain the ability to turn captions off when they choose and viewers can turn captions on or off using on-screen controls.

Product mock of Instagram auto-generated captions

Stickers on Facebook and Messenger

  • We added alt text descriptions to the more than 10,000 stickers available on Facebook and Messenger, making it possible for people who are blind and visually impaired to understand and use them. 

Avatars

  • Earlier this year, we introduced the ability to have your same avatar across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Quest. 
  • There are also new avatar options, including over-the-ear hearing aids and cochlear implants in addition to more face shapes, skin tones, expressions, and stickers. 
  • Wheelchairs are now available as stickers on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger so your avatar can better represent who you are or who you want to be.

Product mock of accessibility features of Avatars

Open Source

  • Lexical is a JavaScript framework built to improve text editing on Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Workplace, with accessibility as a priority. 
  • In April, Lexical was released into open source to allow the rest of the world to benefit from these improvements. 
  • With this new framework, people can express their ideas in text via dictation, and readers can experience character-by-character navigation — a feature previously unavailable in similar editors.

Reality Labs Research

  • We’re exploring how improvements in audio quality can enable more realistic presence and perceptual superpowers in augmented and virtual reality— technological advancements that can also help us hear better in noisy environments. 
  • Our team of hearing scientists is also exploring how to reencode sound and present it through closed captioning.
  • While this is still early research, we are excited to learn more about how emerging audio technologies can improve the lives of people with hearing loss. 

Image showing audio research

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Facebook: Announcing New Products to Make Business Messaging Easier

The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural…

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The way people and businesses communicate is changing. One billion people message with a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram Direct — whether it’s DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. This consumer behavior is accelerating and it’s changing how business gets done. Today at Conversations, our inaugural business messaging event, we discussed how messaging is transforming interactions between people and businesses, and announced new products to make conversations easier.

Introducing Cloud-based API on the WhatsApp Business Platform

Today, Mark Zuckerberg announced we’re opening up the new, cloud-based version of the WhatsApp Business Platform, hosted by Meta, to any business across the world. With this new API, we’re offering free, secure cloud hosting services so businesses and developers can easily access our service within minutes, build directly on top of WhatsApp to customize their experience and increase their response time for their customers. So now, whether a business wants to work with one of our 100+ partners or access our service directly, it will be much faster to get up and running on WhatsApp.

When growing a business, you need smart, robust and easy-to-use conversation tools. For smaller businesses using the WhatsApp Business app, we’re building tools so it’s easier to handle an influx of chats as they grow their customer base. 

Launching Recurring Notifications on Messenger

Today we’re announcing a new way for businesses to keep the conversation going with Recurring Notifications. As businesses acquire new customers and begin to scale operations, there’s incredible opportunity to build loyalty and trust — and we believe this is where the value of messaging really shines. This new capability makes it easy to re-engage people right in the messaging thread and deliver tailored messaging at the best time for customers, whether to hear about special promotions, new product drops or tips and tricks.

You can choose the topics you’d like to let people opt-in to, how often customers can hear from you and shape your content, so your messages are always on-brand and relevant. Recurring notifications will also be available for businesses on Instagram this fall.

We also highlighted our click-to-message ads to help customers immediately start conversations with businesses, our CRM platform Kustomer and Meta Business Suite for higher volumes of messages across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. Read more about our product investments in business messaging on our Meta for Developers blog.

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Facebook: Introducing New Members of the Oversight Board

Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin. Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to…

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Today, Meta welcomes the newest members of the Oversight Board who have just been appointed — Paolo Carozza, Khaled Mansour, and Pamela San Martin.

Per the Oversight Board Bylaws, we worked together with the board to identify and select these members over the last few months. Over the next few months we will continue to support and work with the board to select additional members. The new members reflect a wide range of views and experiences, and will bring a variety of perspectives to the board’s existing expertise.

The Oversight Board represents a unique model for social media governance. From its inception, we knew its impact would come not just from its decisions on individual cases, but also from broader recommendations on how we can improve our policies and processes. In the time since they began hearing cases and issuing decisions and recommendations, they’ve been playing a bigger role in setting precedent and direction for our content policies and how we enforce them.  We look forward to welcoming the new board members into this process.

We will update this Newsroom Post as additional members are appointed. We are grateful to all board members for lending their expertise to our content moderation efforts.

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