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The Retail Bulletin, the complete retail news resource

Brands need to make their sites more social to increase sales, finds new study

Wednesday October 10th 2012

New research has found that consumers use social media as inspiration when shopping online but are reluctant to use links from social sites to buy. Instead they expect brands to make their websites more social and invest more in developing ways for their consumers to share photos, videos and product reviews.

Research carried out by MPG Media Contacts and Lightspeed Research revealed that nine out of ten of the online population had made a purchase on the internet in the past six months. However, three out of four people said that they had never followed a link from Facebook to make a purchase.

A third (rising to 42% for 18-34s) said that their purchase decision had been influenced by social media with almost 47% of those who used social media sites for inspiration being inspired by images, while 46% took recommendations from friends and 38% looked at brand pages on social networks. Four out of ten also asked for opinions on their purchases on social media sites. 

Meanwhile, 42% of 18-34 year olds said that they had actually changed their minds about buying an item due to seeing something negative about the product on social media channels.

In addition, the research revealed that the strength of blogger recommendations is starting to decline when compared to friends’ recommendations and visuals.

There was a general acceptance among respondents that m-commerce is growing with 20% of those who had received location-based-messages saying that they had used the information. However, there was still distrust around payment with 27% of those who had never purchased via their mobiles saying that they were worried about submitting bank details into a mobile devices due to security concerns.

25% of those not currently purchasing on their mobiles wanted brands to rebuild their sites for mobile and complained of screen sizes being too small to complete registration forms.

Amy Kean, head of consumer innovation at MPG Media Contacts, said: "The Social Shopper wants to be inspired by elements of social media such as photos and friend reviews, but does not necessarily want to purchase from social sites.

"This is a huge opportunity for brands. Social media is about window shopping and inspiration is just as important as the e-commerce basket. Brands need to apply the same rules to our social displays as we would our stores."

Ralph Risk, marketing director, Lightspeed Research, added: “While our research shows that social commerce may not yet be delivering for many brands in terms of purchases, the importance of social influence cannot be dismissed. Shoppers are influenced by various media and having a joined up strategy, while ensuring there is an easy path to purchase, whether social, mobile, online or in-store, is the best way to meet customer expectations."

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