High street brands should invest more in creating “retail theatre online” using blogs, embedded video and Facebook and Twitter pages to lengthen time spent on sites, which in turn would drive sales, says the analysts.

It points to Australian brand Billabong’s creation of an entertainment destination for its online store RVCA as a model case study. Verdict says the site has increased sales despite the link to its shopping pages being given low prominence in favour of content such as music tour dates and YouTube clips.

Verdict Analyst Charlotte Woods says retailers have not recognised the potential of social media: “By viewing and running [online stores and social media] operations separately retailers simply aren’t realising the full power of social media.”

“Retailers have the ability to attract increased levels of traffic to their online stores by using social media to create entertainment destinations which consumers can get excited about,” she adds.

The report says taking advantage of new ways to drive retail brand engagement will become increasingly important as competition online grows.