Indeed, at the end of 2014 eBay forecast that the value of social media within the retail sector will more than double from £1.5bn to around £3.3bn over the next two years.
And while channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram still haven’t quite developed as purchasing destinations in themselves, it’s clear just how important it is to driving consumer habits – and most importantly – sales.
According to Nielsen’s global ecommerce report at the end of 2014, a predicted 61% of shoppers spend considerable hours browsing through online content before making a physical purchase, and 43% do so specifically through social media channels. As a result, many retailers are now correctly viewing social media channels as an extension to their retail locations rather than a separate entity.
Marc Jacobs is one such brand that has explored social media as a sales driven asset, which – in its Manhattan launch last year – encouraged customers to tweet or post an Instagram photo about the new line using a specific hashtag.
Those that did so received a free gift, which included perfumes, jewellery and accessories. This activity ultimately drove sales and through the campaign, the brand received almost 14,000 mentions on Twitter and 4,300 Instagram likes and comments.
Reflecting on this, a report from Aberdeen Group at the end of last year claimed that more than half (55%) of retail leaders have successfully expanded their customer base using social media, which in turn has been utilised as a tool to generate sales.
Clearly, social media has evolved into more than just another channel for advertising, but a way for retailers to organically showcase their products.
These examples show just how much faith retailers are now putting into their social media channels, and this is because they have acknowledged that high levels of engagement directly leads customers to browse and purchase products, which can have a positive impact on a business’ bottom line.
In 2015, retailers simply mustn’t ignore the potential that social media engagement can have in terms of generating sales. Taking an example of a brand that that has identified this growing trend is one of Stackla’s own clients, Wanted Shoes.
They brought us on board to help create a social catalogue which was composed of real life images taken by its customers, who showcased images of themselves with products to inspire other users actively engaging with the site. While hovering over a particular image, users were directed to a link to buy that particular item or to another section to browse similar products by that designer.
The implementation of the social catalogue was so successful that Wanted Shoes actually commissioned us to build this feature as a standard option on their website.
Looking at the numbers, Wanted Shoes’ bounce rate on its Social Scene page is only 5%, making it the most engaging page on its site, with 95% of users clicking through to specific product pages in the online store.
In revenue terms, eCommerce conversion for anyone that visited the Social Scene page is 20% better than the site average, which shows just how powerful social shopping has become for the brand.
In 2014, Nielsen reported that social media engagement can help to increase sales, with 77% of consumers claiming that ‘social exposure’ and validation from an existing customer the most persuasive endorsement of a product, identifying that it can have a significant impact on a retailer’s performance.
Clearly then, in 2015 – retailers can scarcely afford to underestimate the power of peer endorsement as a driving force to higher sales and it is an approach well worth considering.