Some retailers out there might still be hedging their bets when it comes to social shopping, but a new study suggests that now’s the time to be going all-in. More shoppers from all demographics are interested in advanced shopping features on e-commerce sites, and discovering new products and services on social networks.
The Art Technology Group (ATG)’s report entitled “Consumer Shopping Experience, Preferences, and Behaviors” polled 1,002 ages 18 and over about their shopping habits.
Nearly a third (29%) of the study’s respondents aged 18 to 34 said that they had discovered a product or service through one of their social networks. This is a significant finding – increasingly, people are turning to their trusted social networks to get product recommendations as opposed to discovering products and services through more traditional online methods like banner ads.
Looking deeper into the data, we see exactly how consumers are using social networks to do their social shopping. 50% of the 18 to 34 age group polled said they use Facebook to perform specific consumer activities, such as “like” a merchant, post reviews and pictures of products, and discuss products with friends. And to further underline the importance that social networks play in social shopping, 37% reported that they thought it was “important” or “very important” that merchants have some sort of social network presence through which consumers can interact.
Social networks have been a part of social shopping for some time now, so perhaps these findings aren’t all that surprising. However, the study does shed some light on a newer, upcoming technology that social shopping has begun to exploit: mobile.
About 41% of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they use their mobile device to complete purchases. This could mean finding a review at the point of purchase that propels them to buy, or actually ordering something on their smartphone. In a similar ATG survey this past spring, 23% of respondents said they used their phones to make a purchase. This speedy increase shows that consumers want to be able to access offerings from their favorite merchants when they’re on the go.
Merchants would do well to add a mobile element to their social shopping offerings, but they must keep in mind that consumers expect a certain level of quality when they go to spend their money. Mobile apps that are ultra light on features or whose interface isn’t intuitive might be more detrimental to a brand than helpful.
The survey clearly shows that consumers expect a convenient, social experience while shopping. Sharing reviews online and on their smartphones, getting immediate customer support on Twitter and advanced mobile application functionality are some of the key features consumers are after. Providing these services will propel a brand into consumers’ good graces – and work towards boosting sales and visibility in the process.