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October 03, 2012

Shoppers Hold their Wallets Close on Social Media Shopping

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

The upcoming holiday shopping season--containing Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa among others in its totality--is making retailers think at least twice about how they offer their goods and services up for sale. While there have never been more options available in terms of where to sell those products, the buyers have never been quite so skittish, so listening to them will prove a smart idea. The results of a survey from hybris, announced just today, show that there's at least one place smart retailers will focus somewhat less on: social media.

The hybris survey, taken by over 500 consumers across a variety of ages and nearly-equal gender distribution, detailed that fully 65 percent of respondents didn't use social media channels to interact with, or get information from, their retailers of choice. Users within that 65 percent preferred to access the store directly, or its website, to get the information they were after. One of the largest drivers of this 65 percent-bloc staying out of social media is over privacy concerns on the sites that run social media offerings.

Image via Shutterstock

However, that does leave a fairly substantial bloc of users that do use social media in relation to their shopping, measuring around 35 percent. Of that 35 percent, 75 percent of them use Facebook (News - Alert), and prefer most often to "receive notices about sales" as well as coupons and online codes that they can use for further savings. Those who receive such incentives are more likely to "like" a retailer's Facebook page. The least often used social media channel to get information about products and services, oddly enough, was YouTube (News - Alert).

Worse yet was the issue of actually buying a product. 66 percent of respondents in the hybris survey said that they would not buy directly from a retailer's social media channel, and more often than not for the same reason, an issue of privacy on their data.

Considering that we recently had reports that Rue La La was seeing nearly half their sales come in from mobile devices--with a goal to make it fully half in time for the holiday shopping season by way of an optimized mobile experience--it may seem counter-intuitive to actually pull support from a channel. But the survey makes it quite clear, and with good reason, that retailers should keep their social media presences limited.

Ignoring social media is a bad idea, of course, but using it as a sales channel is likely to be limited, if any, value. Using social media as a promotional tool, meanwhile, is a good idea; it accesses a fairly large bloc of potential buyers and gives them direct incentive to buy. But using it as a sales channel just isn't likely to get the necessary return on investment.

Keeping options open is important for any retailer, but it's never a bad thing to know what usually works and what doesn't going in. There's no sense in taking the time and resources to set up a channel that will be seldom used, if ever, so limiting social media involvement to just providing coupons and deal information will likely be the smartest path for retailers so far.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 2012, happening now in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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