Social shopping trend set to spread
With online spending growing rapidly among British consumers, the UK is set to enter the age of 'social shopping', according to two recent consumer studies by Art Technology Group (ATG).
UK consumers' online spending is growing, as e-retail sales along were forecast to reach some £6.4 billion by December 2010, and a recent study commissioned by ATG suggested the most likely reasons for this continuing growth.
The study, which asked consumers about their attitudes toward online shopping, found that two thirds (65%) of UK shoppers rated their online experiences as either "good" or "very good", with one quarter (25%) particularly favouring their ability to find what they want immediately when shopping online.
At the same time, 21% said they value the ability to easily compare like-for-like products at the click of a button, and 25% value the ability to choose their own shopping channel, whether online, in-store, from a catalogue or a smartphone, suggesting that cross-channel shoppers are increasingly becoming retailers' most valuable customers.
A separate study conducted in the US provided more insight into the trends that are likely to come to the UK in 2011. For example, the study found that social media is becoming increasingly important to a broad range of age groups. Some 29% of respondents aged 18-34 said they have discovered a product or service through a social network, and 37% of those same consumers said it was "important" or "very important" that merchants provide an opportunity to interact through social networks.
The survey also found that older consumers are also demanding advanced shopping capabilities. While consumers over 55 are less likely to use social media or their mobile devices for commerce activities, they have still come to rely on more advanced on-site shopping tools such as live help and recommendations.
According to Frank Lord, vice president (EMEA) for ATG, "Thanks to the pervasiveness of the web and advances in technology, it is now easier than ever for consumers to make purchases at the click of a button. Success for retailers and brands alike now hinges on the implementation of social functionalities that allow consumers to not only share opinions on products but to also connect and share. The emergence of the social shopping trend will certainly be one to watch in 2011."