Shoppers Willing to Connect With Retailers on Facebook

Social commerce may be on the minds of retailers everywhere, but buying through Facebook is still far from mainstream. But it is hard to say whether shoppers are being restricted by the lack of “f-commerce” opportunities on Facebook, or whether retailers are hesitant to experiment before seeing a strong level of interest.
Software provider Ability Commerce found that 79% of the Internet Retail Top 500 retailers have Facebook pages, yet only 12% offer apps or widgets that enable ecommerce transactions on the social network. Meanwhile, according to a joint study by Shop.orgcomScore and Social Shopping Labs, more than half (53%) of Facebook users have reached a retailer’s website from its Facebook page, and 35% of online shoppers said they would be likely to make a purchase through Facebook.
Facebook has become the social media venue of choice among online buyers. Compete discovered that the number of online buyers using retailers’ Facebook pages increased 3 percentage points over the previous year, bumping blogs, forums and review sites to second place. Additionally, a third of respondents “like” six or more retailers or consumer products companies on Facebook.

The prospect of finding out about sales and promotions is a big lure. Over 56% of those surveyed by Compete visited retailers’ Facebook pages for this purpose, while 58% in the study, which included Twitter and a company’s blog in the figure, cited deals as a primary motivation. Learning more about a retailer and keeping up to date on products were also important.
According to Compete, more than 20% of online buyers found Facebook pages “influential” or “extremely influential,” regardless of the channel where the transaction is completed. The numbers show promise for a less established retail offering.

PowerReviews and e-tailing group survey discovered that more familiar online tools, such as customer reviews, Q&As and forums, beat Facebook for their effect on buying behavior, yet the popular site still fared better than mobile or Twitter.

Community/Social Tools that Have an Impact on Their Buying Behavior According to US Online Buyers, April 2011 (% of respondents)

Taken with Compete’s findings, this implies that Facebook is being used by online shoppers more than ever and is continuing to grow in popularity, but has yet to surpass more ubiquitous online community tools in direct influence on purchasing.
Retailers and consumer products companies could give the small but eager group currently connecting with them on Facebook what they are looking for: access to sales. Even if these online shoppers are not yet able to make purchases directly through Facebook, exclusive offers can engender goodwill, loyalty, sharing and increase the likelihood of taking the “f-commerce” leap when it is offered.

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