Despite the hype, social networking did little to influence the way US consumers shopped in the run up to Christmas, a new study has found.
Despite improvements in the way information is personalised through Facebook, mobile phones and tablets, the shopping experience across those channels lags far behind traditional ecommerce websites, according to a study by ecommerce personalisation specialist Baynote.
According to its analysis, the vast majority of shoppers (nearly 80%) said social networks had no influence on their holiday purchase decisions. But given that 55% said getting advice on products from friends was important, Baynote says retailers are missing an opportunity to exploit the social graph.
At the same time, less than 9% of consumers purchased something from a retailer's Facebook fan page yet 20% made a purchase on an ecommerce website based on a promotion seen on Facebook.
Email and search delivered shoppers the most relevant product recommendations, outperforming ecommerce sites and in-store sales associates. Coupons and promotions delivered via email, direct mail and search were more useful to shoppers than daily deal sites and social networks
Overall, more than 84% of consumers said their online shopping experience this season was "good" or "excellent," up from 78% last year. The attributes consumers said were most important to ensuring a positive online shopping experience included a smooth checkout process, effective on-site navigation and search, informative user reviews and comments, and personalised product recommendations, although consumers indicated there is room for improvement across the board.
"With so much hype around emerging channels this holiday season, our survey shows online retailers which of them actually delivered the best online experience," said Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer for Baynote. "While social, mobile and tablets all have tremendous potential, retailers need to improve the customer shopping experience across these new channels. This holds particularly true for the tablet, which we expect will dominate all other emerging channels in the coming year."
Consumers were generally satisfied with privacy controls across ecommerce channels this year, except on Facebook, which has publically struggled to quell the privacy concerns of its users; more than one out of five people said it did not meet their expectations on privacy.