‘Forget F-commerce, make your site social’

Retailers should concentrate on building social features into their own websites rather than trying to encourage consumers to make transactions on Facebook, research suggests.

Asos Facebook Store
Asos closed its Facebook store recently, favouring social widgets on its own site.

Just one in four people have followed a link from Facebook to make a purchase, yet a third say their purchase decisions have been influenced by social media, according to research from MPG Media Contacts and Lightspeed Research.

Of those who use social media for inspiration, 47 per cent are inspired by images, 46 per cent take recommendations from friends and 38 per cent look at brand pages.

MPG says the findings suggest there is a “huge opportunity” for brands to apply “window shopping” and social tactics to their own online stores as consumers are still uncomfortable with purchasing through social networks.

Consumers want stores with customer reviews, user generated images and easy ways to stamp their approval on products via social widgets such as Like, Tweet and +1 buttons, according to Amy Kean, head of consumer innovation at MPG.

She adds that the launch of Facebook’s new “Want” button – which allows users to build up a wishlist of items that friends can click straight through and buy from online stores – will enhance retailers’ social displays even further.

“Brands have spent years making their sites consumer-friendly, focusing on usability, baskets and conversion to drive that all important sale – however, last year there was a sudden trend for taking e-commerce functionalities outside of a brand’s own website to create transactional applications on Facebook, for example. We’ve seen from the limited success of these ‘stores’ – with most now having been removed – that this isn’t what consumers want,” Kean says.

Examples of retailers already applying social rules to their websites include Domino’s, which allows customers to create and name their own pizza to share with friends; the Nando’s mobile app, which is linked with Facebook so consumers can create their own “Nando’s events” with friends; and Asos, which has social widgets for each of its products. Asos also launched a Facebook store last year, but this has since closed.

Travel brands, such as Trip Advisor have also taken steps to socialise their sites by allowing Facebook logins so visitors can see where their friends have rated holidays previously.

The research was carried out by MPG using Lightspeed Research’s online panel, using a nationally representative survey of 1,000 respondents. ISBA members were also surveyed via MPG’s Fabric Panel.

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