2014 has seen the most concerted efforts so far by some of the world’s biggest social networks to integrate e-commerce into their platforms. And, as a recent GWI Commerce report shows, it’s a move which is likely to resonate with significant sections of the social audience.
Globally, 7 in 10 active Facebook users say they have bought a product online in the past month, with the equivalent figure among Twitter’s active user base climbing to approach the three-quarter mark.
What’s more, a quarter of internet users say that social network-based retail stores make them more likely to purchase online – with a notable peak among Twitter users. In this context, it’s not hard to see why both Twitter and Facebook are trialing ‘Buy’ buttons in the hopes of opening up new and lucrative revenue streams.
Let’s also take a look at the impact of webrooming (where products are researched online but bought in-store) and showrooming (when items are tested in-store and then purchased online).
With the chart looking at the ratio of online researchers to buyers across nearly 30 different product categories, it’s clear that there are some big differences in evidence.
Where the ratio is above 1 – meaning there are more researchers than purchasers – the products in question are susceptible to webrooming. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is most likely to be taking place for big-ticket items such as cars, laptops, mobile phones, tablets and games consoles. Internet users might be discovering and researching them online, but the purchase journey is being completed inside a physical retail environment – whether to take advantage of customer service, to “test” the product or to gain a sense of reassurance about their financial outlay.
In contrast, many other categories have more purchasers than researchers and hence have a ratio below 1. Some of these products are simply too low in value, or else are purchased so habitually or on the basis of deals, that no research is necessary. But there are others where a degree of showrooming is likely to be taking place – as with clothes and shoes. Evidently, some consumers are using retail stores to find correct styles and sizes, but then purchasing the products online to get the best prices. And this is a trend that’s likely to have special importance as we approach the Christmas period when people invest greater amounts of time and energy in locating the best presents.
As explored in the new GWI Commerce report, free delivery is the most effective online purchase driver. Of the 15 different options tracked by GWI, it’s this measure which scores the highest response globally – with 4 in 10 internet users saying it makes them more likely to purchase something online.
The power of free delivery is far from even across regions, though. It exerts its biggest impact in Europe and North America but is less important in a market like China (where internet users instead place the highest premium on customer reviews and feedback).
As the chart demonstrates, other important global motivators include:
Financial rewards such as coupons or discounts (35%)
Customer reviews (34%)
Loyalty points (29%)
For reviews, though, there’s a clear disconnect between supply and demand; from market to market, there are more people writing reviews than actively looking for them.
The trends we saw in Q2′s social login data continued in Q3, with Facebook continuing to make incremental gains as the web’s most used third-party identity provider. Also in step with recent trends, Yahoo continued its precipitous decline, dipping below 10% of all social logins in the quarter.
Facebook’s majority position seems to have been solidified by the company’s recent changes to Facebook Login, which now includes line-by-line controls for users when they choose to log into sites and apps with their Facebook credentials.
Google/Google+ saw a slight decrease overall, but made critical gains in mobile, while Twitter broached double-digits in login percentage for the first time in more than a year. Also of note, Login with Amazon gained its highest percentage of logins since launching in May 2013.
One big thing I have in common with the original author of this article, and why I’m sharing this:
Answering questions from my friends and colleagues about what the crazy futurists in San Francisco are doing — if they all wear Google Glass (no), if self-driving cars really roam the streets (yes), and whether Silicon Valley fixations like Bitcoin are going to be adopted more broadly (not until the infrastructure gets better, and maybe not even then).
I’ve been asked to explain these things so many times that, in the interest of saving time, I’ve decided to make a list of all the things that are staples of (a certain kind of yuppie, overprivileged, tech-centric) San Francisco life, but haven’t caught on to the same degree back east. New Yorkers, here’s a guide to what your West Coast counterparts are up to.
What it is: An app that lets you choose one of two or three meals per day and have it delivered to your house in 15 minutes or less.
Why it’s popular: The meals cost $8 apiece, and are usually fairly decent. Also, no digging for ones — you pay and tip the driver through your smartphone. In my neighborhood, SpoonRocket cars are everywhere around lunchtime, their little red window flags flapping in the breeze.
Will this be a Thing in New York? Maybe. New York has more (and better) lunch options than San Francisco, and more places that deliver. But if SpoonRocket extends to New York — it’s currently only in the Bay Area — it could steal business from Seamless.
What it is: An app that tells you fun things to do.
Why it’s popular: It’s the digital-age Time Out, and helps you find quirky activities like flashmobs and cooking classes. San Franciscans use it to find date ideas, fill an empty Friday night, or get clued in about concerts and parties.
Will this be a Thing in New York? It already works in New York, but I mostly hear about Sosh in San Francisco. Maybe because New Yorkers don’t have to look as hard for adventure.
What they are: Remote-controlled or auto-piloted helicopters, costing anywhere from $100 to $10,000 and up.
Why they’re popular: You can strap a GoPro to a drone to take a “dronie” of yourself from above. But early adopters are also experimenting with more practical applications, like surveying crops or as part of home-security systems. It’s not rare to see multiple tiny helicopters flying overhead on any given weekend afternoon in Dolores Park, shooting photos and scaring tourists.
Will they be a Thing in New York? Yes, if Martha Stewart is any indication.
What they are: Online money-management services. Both take your money and invest it (mostly in low-cost index funds) for very small fees, using software instead of human financial advisers. Just put your money in, answer a few questions about your financial goals, and the software does the rest.
Why they’re popular: Both companies have marketed themselves to Silicon Valley techies who have money but no time or expertise to manage it. Wealthfront gives seminars on investing at Facebook and Google, and Betterment — which is based in New York — has tried to capitalize on the tech boom as well. I often see people checking their portfolios with both companies’ mobile apps on the train.
Will this be a Thing in New York? Probably. It’s not as cool to say “my money’s in Wealthfront” as “my money’s with Goldman Sachs,” but it’s a lot cheaper.
Will this be a Thing in New York? It already is, to an extent. The difference is that Venmo is everywhere in San Francisco. Landlords collect rent through it, friends use it to split Uber rides, and charities use it to collect donations. Expect it to get universal in New York as well.
What it is: A car-sharing service. It’s like Uber, but weirder.
Why it’s popular: Uber is now ubiquitous in major American cities, but Lyft — which uses silly pink mustaches and has fist-bumping drivers — is still strongest in the Bay Area, maybe because it’s often as cheap or cheaper than other car services. People in San Francisco tend to use Lyft if Uber is doing surge pricing, or if they’re in the mood to converse with their drivers.
Will this be a Thing in New York? Probably. Lyft just started operating in the city, but it’s still having trouble keeping up with demand. If it can iron out the kinks (and ditch the mustaches), it should be fine.
Why it’s popular: It’s been a gamer favorite ever since it launched, but Silicon Valley got obsessed after Facebook bought the company for $2 billion. There’s even a monthly virtual-reality meet-up for hard-core Oculus fans.
Will this be a Thing in New York? Not for a while. Oculus is still not widely available, and living in Brooklyn is kind of its own virtual reality.
What it is: A dating app that connects users to friends of their friends, and sends each person a short biography of the other when they match. (“George went to Princeton. He works at Google, and lives in Mountain View. You both like foreign films and cooking.”)
Why it’s popular: Easier than OKCupid, not as creepy as Tinder. Hinge started in Washington, D.C., but it seems to have become biggest in San Francisco, where it launched just this year. Anecdotally, Facebook employees seem particularly fond of it, perhaps since it uses Facebook as its match-making data source.
Will this be a Thing in New York? Hinge is already in New York, but doesn’t seem to be throwing much competition Tinder’s way. Maybe New Yorkers like a little more randomness in their love lives.
What they are: Computers on your wrist. Samsung and LG are making them, and Google and other companies are hoping they’re the wave of the future.
Why they’re popular: Because it’s more polite to glance at your wrist for new e-mails than pull out your phone. Smartwatches are still mostly big with developers and tech workers, because early models don’t do much except make you look like Dick Tracy.
Will this be a Thing in New York? Only when Apple releases one. [10/08/2014 Update: definitely a 'Yes' now! ]
It’s a familiar frustration for most of us: You type your precise, specific search terms into Google, and expect to find what you need on the first page.
Instead, you’re faced with millions of search results, and the first few links are so off-the-wall unrelated you wonder if you mistyped something.
But your search terms are correct, so why doesn’t Google know what you’re looking for? And how are you supposed to narrow down the millions of irrelevant results?
Though Google keeps improving their algorithms, there are still plenty of terms that stymie the search engine. Without context, it’s hard for Google to know exactly what you’re looking for, especially if your inquiry is highly specific.
Luckily, Google has quite a few hidden tips and tricks for searching that will help you quickly find exactly the results you’re looking for.
Just by learning a few formatting and punctuation tricks, you can tell Google how your search terms are related, or exclude certain words or phrases. You can also narrow down your search with criteria like location or pricing, or use Google to search within a single website.
If you’re still not getting the results you need, Google has several other little-known features that can widen your search. Webmasters can easily find images for their websites and blogs withGoogle Images, and researchers need only visit Google Books or Google Scholar to search through print publications and research papers in any field.
Faster and more accurate searches aren’t the only benefit to becoming a Google power user. Google also has a few hidden functions you can unlock with the right search query, including calculations and conversions, stock quotes and sports scores, and film showings and flight statuses. With the right search, you can get immediate results telling you the current weather and today’s sunrise and sunset times, or quickly look up the definition of a word and get a translation into one of dozens of available languages.
With the time you save as a Google power user, you’ll even be able to fit in a game of Atari Breakout on Google Images. Just follow the steps below to find out how!