Online retail & shopping is changing from a transactional model of e-commerce with buying decisions of online shoppers getting influenced by social communications and the fundamental shifts taking place in the online social environment. Today’s online shopper is not just a buyer of goods & services. They are social shoppers who also play the role of critics, brand ambassadors, product experts, & are key influencers in buying decisions within their social circles and even beyond
While the mouth-to-mouth sharing of experiences is nothing new and has been happening since time immemorial, the fundamental change is in the the magnitude of the inter-connectedness that social platforms bring to the table and the reach of these platforms. The voice that an individual has as part of the larger eco-system. (combine this with above reach point and just realize the impact it has?). The level of openness, transparency & discoverability that the changing online social platforms are bringing. Consumers are no longer shy of expressing themselves and acknowledging that they made a good or a bad decision in buying a particular good/service. Fundamentally, Social Platforms are transforming the way people behave online
A recent survey of internet users in the UK revealed that
- 70% have purchased a product/service online
- 53% have reviewed a product/service online
- 30% have sent a product recommendation to a friend online
Buyers are getting influenced by the social product reviews and not just marketing pitches by the brands. In-fact, customer’s reviews are fast catching up with search engines towards influencing online purchase decisions. Empowered customers are increasingly motivating other shoppers and triggering purchase considerations. While lowest price/VFM pricing is still a large influencer of online purchase decisions but it is not just the only & sole driving factor. Infact, research suggests that customers are willing to pay premium for a 5* rated product vs a 3* rated product. The purchase trigger/consideration/decision making process is moving more & more online – driven by social feeds. (previously, the consideration process was offline, with just the purchase transaction being done online)
So, what does this mean to the online retailers?
Online retailers need to understand these social changes taking place online and get plugged into the social, collaborative, emergent, inter-connected online market place for building differentiated offerings, relationships & touch points with the customers.
Is your retail/online strategy ready to leverage the social phenomenon?