I've been involved in eCommerce since the very early days, and during that time I've seen a lot of brands come and go, along with a whole new set of innovative companies geared up to service the sector. 

As the shift for consumers to go 'online' has been energised more by 'stay at home' messages than real innovation the 'online' experience still remains very much biased towards the transaction. 

Today it seems that the whole industry still spends most of its time obsessing about ways to get customers to the eCommerce website, ensuring that the onsite journey is easy, and hoping that journey turns into a commercial sale. 

So much so that most websites (mobile and Apps) try and automate everything in order they can reduce any real human interaction which in turn can keep cost down, but is it at the cost of commoditizing a void between real human interaction without the building a relationship?.

The mighty Amazon are a great example of total obsession with the transaction. Most innovations from Amazon (copied by others) are focused around getting you to the virtual checkout as fast and easy as possible, with the odd 'people who bought this also bought that' suggestion thrown in along the way.

With the huge growth in eCommerce I think brands have subconsciously become disconnected from the customer.  

Every bit of evidence suggest that whilst brands obsess about getting us to the site, through the funnel, and then to the checkout in a friction-less manner they've forgotten to 'listen' and engage with us. 

Its all very 'functional', it's bland, it's solitary, and it's managing to isolate brand and customer.

As we've slowly forgotten to 'listen' I believe we have managed to disconnect ourselves from the social aspect of shopping that became so enjoyable back in the day. 

Back in the day (long before Covid) if we didn't shop via mail order we had little choice other than to go to a physical retail outlet to make that purchase, and it seems we might have taken for granted the experiential aspect of those visits. 

There was something tangible and comforting about breathing in the store environment, especially at Christmas, we could see other customers, hear what they were looking to buy, or listen to questions being posed to the store staff, and hear the excitement in children's voices at the thought of getting 'that present'. 

We tapped into all our senses and let's be honest it wasn't that bad, and once your flavour of lockdown ends I'm pretty sure those physical stores that are left will see a tsunami of people craving for that 'social experience'.

Listening is where we learn things that we might never have known, and social media is the place we can all go to to engage in conversations, create conversations, and learn how to listen. 

The shift to social commerce is happening because consumers are buying into a brand they can relate to, a brand that doesn't just sell, sell, sell.

The best ones are sharing stories, empowering employees to share their stories and engaging with real people in real time - sound familiar?