Walmart collaborates with Rachael Ray

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Walmart is dipping its toes in the social commerce waters again, hosting a Facebook Live event this week with TV personality Rachael Ray to promote the famous cooker and Walmart’s line of dog food and other products. ‘author.

Starting at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, September 29, Ray, her husband, John Cusimano, and their dog, Bella Boo Blue, will discuss the creation of Nutrish, the dog food brand that Ray and Cusimano founded in 2008. as well as Ray’s cookware line. Viewers will also get a preview of Ray’s new cookbook and have the option to pre-order it ahead of its release next month.

The Facebook Live event, which will also air on Walmart.com, follows a series of live shopping events the retailer held on TikTok starting in late 2020 and continuing through the spring. These events featured a variety of TikTok creators showcasing different products available at Walmart.

Walmart said the first TikTok shopping event saw 7,000 more people than the retailer expected, and its followers on the social media platform grew by 25%.

See also: Walmart announces second live shopping event with TikTok

Marketing Director of Walmart William White told Forbes last year that the company sees social commerce as a way to “shorten the distance between inspiration and purchase.”

“Consumers today are increasingly looking to shop in the moment,” he said. “I think it’s their behaviors that push it or the platforms that push it, as a space we’re going in that direction. And I think you’re seeing more and more platforms and consumers moving into the social commerce space.

Social commerce sales reached nearly $27 billion last year, according to eMarketer, a 39% year-over-year increase. Sales are expected to exceed $36 billion this year and exceed $79 billion by 2025. Social commerce is expected to account for 4% of e-commerce sales in the United States in 2021.

A growing social presence

Walmart has been at the forefront of contextual commerce, or the integration of shopping experiences into everyday activities and natural environments, making social commerce movements a natural extension of other initiatives. Earlier this month, the retailer partnered with media giant Meredith Corp. to create buyable advertisements and recommendations informed by artificial intelligence (AI) for consumers. The collaboration with Meredith will also see the companies create a “buy now” integration with Allrecipes content on TikTok and a voice command feature through Google Assistant.

Walmart also has a celebrity-filled series of videos and activities for kids and adults, featuring characters from the Netflix series “Hidden World of Waffles + Mochi.” And last month, the retailer partnered with cooking app SideChef to release five shoppable recipes for families.

But social commerce isn’t just for the biggest brands – in a recent interview with PYMNTS, Amir Kabbara, chief product officer at Shopify, said social media “plays a huge role in the success of our merchants” and can help deepen relationships with consumers.

Read more: Shopify aims to make social media the ‘digital main street’

Holly Wade, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business Research Center, also told Karen Webster that small business owners are turning to social media to help capture consumers they otherwise couldn’t. to reach. PYMNTS’ most recent study of high street business survivors found that the average small store now operates three distinct sales channels: a physical storefront, an online store and a social media marketplace.

“It becomes increasingly important during the pandemic, as business operations evolve, Wade said. “Small businesses need social media to ensure they are competitive with other businesses in the area.”

See also: After a year in survival mode, SMEs are now going social

Battle for the top

For Walmart, the emphasis on social and contextual commerce comes as it tries to retain its title as the largest retailer in the United States for as long as possible. It is currently in a standoff with Amazon for the crown, although PYMNTS data predicts the e-commerce giant will overtake the box store juggernaut in the coming months.

No more news: AMZN vs. WMT Weekly: Retail giants remain deadlocked for top spot

More importantly, Walmart is trying to hold onto its edge in groceries, which accounts for 56% of the company’s overall retail sales and is one of the last remaining categories where Walmart outpaces Amazon. In the second quarter, Walmart accounted for nearly 19% of all food and beverage sales, compared to 2% for Amazon, despite its ownership of Whole Foods and its dominance in e-commerce.

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