In the late 1990s, analysts predicted online shopping would be the next big thing. Indeed they were right, with sites such as Amazon, NexTag and eBay exploding with success. Over a decade later, we’re in the golden era of online commerce. Social shopping is the newest trend to emerge from the competitive landscape, leveraging the power of friends and sharing to select the perfect gift.
There are several branches of social shopping, including daily deals (flash sales), recommendations, social engagement (liking products) and brand awareness. Shoppers use social media to find the latest coupons or deals, research product information, compare product features, read product reviews and determine product availability.
Social Networks and Shopping
Performics, the performance marketing division of Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi Nerve Center, conducted a comprehensive study on social shopping. Interestingly, men are more active on social networks compared to women, except for Facebook where it was split down the middle. According to the study, men are more likely to visit social networking pages before and during the purchasing process. Women, however, “like” company pages and products on Facebook more often after purchasing.
Overall, both men and women tend to use social media more in the beginning when they are searching for a product to buy and right before they are about to make a purchasing decision. Far fewer users engage with social media after they made the purchase or when they are in the store or on the retailer’s website. Although the study did find men are more likely to take advantage of limited-time deal sites, such as Groupon.
Consumers consult shopping websites, such as Amazon.com, to initiate their product search and right before they make a purchase. Interestingly, shoppers turn to social networks after they make a purchase, or while they are on the retailer’s website. Nearly 20 percent of shoppers with one or more active social network profiles use shopping and deal sites to find the latest specials, coupons and best prices.
Overall, shopping sites are the most important part of the purchasing process for consumers, followed by deal sites. Interestingly, users trust product reviews and recommendations equally on social networks and shopping sites. Unfortunately for retailers, users are also engaging with third-party websites and social networks while they’re in the store.
Use of Smartphones within Retail Stores
Approximately 45 percent of the surveyed users use their smartphone to “check in” at a retail location using Foursquare or a similar service. An additional 41 percent use their mobile device to lookup product information and what their friends have to say about products. Less than one-third of users, 30 percent, take product photos to post on social networks and solicit comments. And 30 percent of those surveyed also use their mobile phones to lookup pricing information using QR codes.
Shoppers aren’t willing to wait for their friends' advice or recommendations. According to the report, 60 percent of shoppers who regularly use social media as part of the buying process only wait 10 minutes before proceeding to purchase.
Gamification of e-Commerce
According to a study by eConsultancy, the social gaming industry has a huge impact on e-commerce. The study indicates social gamers are twice as likely to make purchases while playing in the gaming environment. Gamers, who are 70 percent more likely to follow through with a purchase, are considered “influencers” within their social network and more likely to write product reviews. The study also found 53 percent of retail transactions within Facebook converted into sales on the merchant’s website.
Staying Within Their Comfort Zone
According to Ben Parr of Mashable, shoppers spend an average of eight hours per month on Facebook. Over the years, they have grown accustomed to the infamous blue-and-white platform. It’s the hub of their social identity – users feel “safe” nestled within the platform.
Payvment, a social shopping platform, allows merchants to leverage the power of Facebook by creating virtual Storefronts. Users can go through the entire shopping process – from browsing to checkout – without leaving the social network. Payvment allows merchants to integrate their product listings with Facebook’s core services, such as sharing, polls, and promotions.
Featured at ad:tech SF’s Startup Spotlight series, Payvment is revolutionizing the way merchants engage with shoppers. By using the OpenGraph protocol, Payvment offers an unsurpassed user experience that drives meaningful traffic. Users can interact with product pages by “wanting” a product, or telling their friends they already “own” the product. For example, if your friend owns a MacBook Pro, you can ask them how they like it from within the platform. The power of your social circle is put to work like never before. Users can also “unlock” special promotions if offered by merchants by “liking” their product or page.
Most importantly, Payvment offers a customized user experience for each individual shopper by taking his or her interests into account. Using their “Taste Graph,” consumers can explore products “liked” by people with similar interests and backgrounds. These customized recommendations are displayed throughout their Storefront to increase traffic and conversions.
The Future: F-Commerce
Facebook Commerce is the next big wave to strike the e-commerce industry. As Facebook expands its marketing platform, merchants have an increasing amount of information on their shoppers. Using recommendations, they can target personalized deals or offers that are too good to pass up. Social shopping is in its infancy, but f-Commerce remains a big trend in 2012.
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