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BizReport : Ecommerce : July 04, 2011

Social commerce slow to catch on, exclusivity key driver

Big UK retailers and brands have recently launched Facebook stores, but new research by Havas Media Social and Lightspeed Research suggests that there won't be a rush to purchase via social networks anytime soon.

by Helen Leggatt

The technology is in place, as are millions of social networking users, but there's been little happening in the social commerce space.

The vast majority of the 1,000 or so Brits (89%) surveyed for the Havas Media Social/Lightspeed research had never made a purchase via Facebook and half of those had no interest in doing so.

Why? Because they have security concerns. Even if a special offer is featured on a brand's social network page, most would prefer to redeem that offer on the brand's official website.

Two-thirds of respondents said they would be prepared to spend on low-value items on social commerce pages quoting a price range of between $1.60 and $80, but most would not consider purchasing high price items.

"Based on industry predictions and the rate of innovation in this space, social commerce is likely to become a reality - but there's still a lot more work for brands to do to help consumers get their heads around it," said Amy Kean, director of social media for Havas Media Social.

"It is the understanding of social behaviors - not the technology - that we need to prioritize."

Marketers need to think social when putting their wares for sale on social networks. Transplanting a regular version of retail website on to a social network just won't cut it. Marketers need to develop new methods of sharing their wares and of hooking social network users into the social commerce scene.

It appears that exclusivity is one way to drive consumers to buy via social networks. One quarter said they would buy a product through Facebook if it was not available anywhere else. Likewise 11% saying they would buy via a social network if the product was exclusive to 'fans' of the brand.

Almost one fifth (17%) believed they would buy from a social network if it was easier than the traditional ecommerce experience. Trust in brands is essential - with 22% of respondents saying they would buy from Facebook if they could do so from a brand they know and trust.

"It's not enough to simply facilitate purchasing through Facebook, or any social network with a 'lite' version of your online store - social commerce must be about creating a truly social shopping experience," concludes Neil Kleiner, head of social media at Havas Media Social.

"Through tapping into the power of recommendation, giving fans special offers and getting friends to buy together, social commerce will carve its own niche, offering something that the traditional purchasing process cannot."

Tags: consumer insight, online shopping, social commerce, social media, social network

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