The evolution of shopping – can social media drive sales?

Research reveals that retailers could be missing a big trick when it comes to maximising their social media strategy.

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Research released yesterday by shopper research specialists – Shoppercentric, reveals that retailers could be missing a trick when it comes to maximising their social media strategy.

The report focuses attention towards social media and mobile-commerce and how these channels could help retailers drive purchases.

Firstly, the report explores the gender divide. In the context of the research, the gender divide is defined as follows;

  • Boys are playing with their toys
  • The girls are getting social

Males are typically more excited about mobile-commerce and happily use their mobile devices to compare prices while out shopping. Females on the other hand see shopping is a social event and an opportunity to see friends.

This sociability is reflected in the females’ online activity, with 60% of the women surveyed use Facebook, compared with just 52% of men.

shopping divide_thumb

It’s also interesting to note that 38% of men own a smartphone, compared to just 29% of women.

By acknowledging this gender divide and focusing on the ‘boys playing with their toys’ and  ‘girls getting social’, retailers have a great opportunity to improve their retail experience.

Brands finding a voice

Social media, in its many forms, has given brands the opportunity to connect directly with potential customers.

But there are common shopper responses to this; “Why would I go on a brands’ Facebook page when I can visit their website?” and “Facebook is for friends, not companies”.

Shoppers aren’t used to talking directly to brands so struggle to see any reason to do so. Only 17% claim to have interacted with a brand on Facebook.

However, shoppers are more likely to interact with retailers on Facebook, with 27% claiming to have done so. This could be due to the presence of retailers on the highstreet and the fact shoppers are already used to dealing with them face-to-face.

Although the social opportunities for brands are evident, it’s not without challenges;

  • Only 1 in 3 shoppers visit brand websites, compared to 3 in 4 visiting retailer websites
  • 37 % of shoppers don’t see the point in brands using social media, compared to 18% saying the same of retailers

There is evidently a fundamental barrier in the minds of shoppers that stops them engaging with brands. So, it is the responsibility of the brands to set up meaningful communications.

One of the biggest mistakes brands make is the assumption that shoppers will come to them. They need to work on how they seek and engage with the shoppers.

The report reveals that only 9% of people follow a brand on social media. Those who do, do so for tangible benefits such as discounts, prizes, offers, exclusive products and competitions. Not forgetting, the key ingredient in social media – fun.

For brands to create meaningful connections in the social media space, they must;

  • Show their true colours
  • Seek their target market, not assume that it will find them
  • Generate curiosity and engaging content that gives shoppers a reason to keep coming back
  • Make it fun

It’s essential for brands to know what the shopper wants from them, rather what they can offer the shopper. See below;



It’s not just about the sale, right?

There is concern amongst retailers that social media isn’t delivering sales. Big social media investments are not being justified in many cases.

Perhaps the question that should be asked by businesses is not whether to invest in social media, but about the targets that are being set.

When you look at the reasons why shoppers contact businesses on social media, vs. looking at their websites, you can see why businesses are frustrated;


To think that social media is all about sales is extremely short-sighted. Just look at the chart above – for the shopper it’s mainly about feeling part of a group and sharing thoughts.

The report concludes;

  • Businesses should see social media and mobile-commerce as platforms for communication
  • These platforms should be part of an over all marketing and communication plan
  • These platforms should be seen as opportunities to target shoppers at different stages of the purchase journey, rather than assuming that one tool will achieve that job alone

To read the report in full, visit

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