According to the 2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study, a joint research project by Shop.org, comScore and The Partnering Group, the visually-appealing social media site Pinterest has become a big player in an even bigger arena, with online U.S. consumers reporting that they already follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on the site, compared to the average 6.9 retailers they follow on Facebook and the 8.5 retailers they track via Twitter. Overall, almost two out of five (38%) online consumers follow retailers through one or more social networking sites.
For retailers engaged in the social media sphere, customizing their approach with social and mobile strategies is leading to social commerce success. The report outlines that as social media continues to grow, retailers are actively evaluating where their customers want them to be. The survey found company blogs, YouTube and Facebook command the majority of consumers’ social activity. In particular, seven in 10 (70%) of those who follow a retailer’s blog click through to the website, and though sometimes overlooked in the overall social media mix, more than two-thirds (68%) of consumers use YouTube to browse and research a retail company.
“Retailers have done a commendable job embracing social media — engaging their customers where it makes sense while keeping their brand relevant, interesting, appealing and exciting on each platform,” said Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell. “Specifically, Pinterest has given retailers another channel to ‘listen’ to and interact with both existing and new customers, telling an ongoing visual story through images of their products and their brand ‘spirit', a story that customers can then tell again to their friends and family members.”
When it comes to what spurs consumers to follow retailers on social media platforms, the study found that finding good deals is still the leading reason, but that deals and promotions have lost a little bit of their luster. This year, 51% say they follow a retailer to get information on deals and coupons, down from 58% who said so last year. Four in 10 (43%) say they are looking for product information and 36% want to post/read comments about merchandise or services. Additionally, three in 10 consumers who follow retailers via social media say they are actively looking for information about events (34%), current trends and ideas (31%), or photos and videos (30%), such as “how-to’s” and styling ideas, as well as expert opinions (27%).
“There are significant new opportunities for retailers to entice smartphone owners who may be within a few feet of their store — or already in the store — thanks to technology that lets shoppers who want to hear from retailers instantly interact with them,” said Jennifer Vlahavas, Senior Director, comScore, Inc. "And while check-in and store location functionality are already gaining popularity, retailers have just begun to scratch the surface of using location data to better serve their customers. In-store shopping maps and customized shopping lists are a few of the emerging mobile technologies that promise to shape consumers’ future behavior."
SMARTPHONES ALLOW "SOCIAL SHOPPING" EXPERIENCE FOR CONSUMERS
Smartphone-toting Americans seem to have no qualms about sharing their location with friends and family members through social media channels, and the study finds they are also interested in sharing their location with retailers. One-third (33%) of those who own smartphones say they have shared their location with retailers. Location-based services, such as Groupon Now!, FourSquare and Facebook have effectively helped retailers instantly reach new and existing customers by targeting special offers, discounts and coupons to their mobile devices once they’ve “checked-in.”
“For retailers, the possibilities are endless when it comes to enticing smartphone owners who may be within a few feet of their store or even already in the store, thanks to technology that lets shoppers who want to hear from retailers instantly interact with them,” said Jennifer Vlahavas, senior director, comScore, Inc. "And while check in and store location functionality are already gaining popularity, retailers have only just scratched the surface of using location data to better serve their customers. In-store shopping maps and customized shopping lists are a few of the possibilities that will cater to the consumer."
The study found that men are more likely than women to share their location with a retailer (40% vs. 25% respectively), and nearly half (46%) of those aged 18–34 say they have shared their location, compared to just two in 10 (22%) of those aged 35–54.
In very different ways, tablets and smartphones are still an integral part of the average person’s shopping experience these days. The survey found those with smartphones are most likely to use their device for social reasons, such as contacting friends and family about products they see and searching for items nearby, while tablets are more likely to be used to make purchases and comparison shop. Specifically, nearly four in 10 (37%) smartphone owners who shop online say they use their smartphone to take pictures of products and more than one-third (34%) said they send the pictures of the products they see to friends. U.S. online consumers surveyed also say they text/call friends/family about specific products while shopping (33%).[Source: "2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study." Shop.org/comScore and The Partnering Group. 31 May 2012. Web. 6 Jun. 2012.]