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Social Shopping Isn’t Taking Off Just Yet

February 19th, 2013 ::

By Karen Axelton

While the idea of shopping directly through social media (such as making a purchase from within Facebook) is frequently touted as the next big development in retail, it’s still got a long way to go, a new study from PwC reports.

Last year just 12 percent of shoppers globally made a purchase directly via social media. And even social media’s much-touted ability to drive sales is not so strong as you might expect: Just 18 percent of shoppers who are active social media users were driven to make a purchase as a direct result of social media, PwC found.

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t strong potential for social media to drive purchases going forward. The study found that consumers are rapidly growing more willing to interact with businesses on social media. Fifty-nine percent say they follow brands on social media, compared to 49 percent last year, and 27 percent report having discovered new brands via social media, up from 17 percent last year.

PwC’s report divides shoppers into three categories and assesses each group’s likelihood of becoming social shoppers. Here’s what they found:

  1. Brand lovers: Accounting for 38 percent of consumers, Brand Lovers follow brands on social media and are also voracious multichannel shoppers. More than half (53 percent) actually go into a physical store at least once a week and 45 percent buy something online at least once a week. PwC says this group has the most potential to become social shoppers.
  2. Deal hunters: Accounting for about half of consumers, this group is savings-motivated and social media will drive them to click through and purchase if the offer is good enough.
  3. Social addicts: This small group is most active interacting with brands on social media, which they use to share shopping experiences, find information and reviews, ask their friends for recommendations and directly give feedback to companies. “These very active online users tend to have huge social media networks and wield an outsized influence,” the report concludes.

Conclusion? While social shopping isn’t yet a major force, it’s likely to become one—so keep working your social media tools.

Image by Flickr user birgerking (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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