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.