What is the future of holiday shopping? Will malls and brick-and-mortar storefronts become a thing of the past? According to e-commerce analysts, the answer is…maybe. And while a big change like that won’t be occurring within the next ten years, the next 3-5 are a little easier to predict. Many analysts believe consumers will be turning to social media to do much of their buying.
Right now, social media networks, including Twitter and Facebook, are frantically developing and perfecting tools to make e-commerce through their sites a practical and easy-to-use feature for their users.
So what type of opportunity are social media sites seeing?
Currently, people who use on the internet can be broken down into three categories: info seekers, socializers, and buyers. Socializers and info seekers rarely make purchases online when they’re in this mode. A socializer may buy something if a friend recommends it, like a new TV series on Blu-ray, and info seekers may buy something like an iPhone App if they think it will help them find the info they’re looking for. However, buyers are on the internet with the specific goal of making a purchase.
E-commerce analysts believe, however, there will soon be a new segment of internet users combining the goals of socializers and buyers (using social media sites to make purchases). This is because services similar to Google Wallet will become more prevalent making it easier and safer for consumers to buy online and through social media.
In fact, studies are already showing there’s a direct correlation between what social media users see on Facebook or Twitter and what they later buy online or in stores. For example, 81 percent of online browsers say posts made by friends and family on social media influence their buying decisions, and 40 percent of browsers have made a purchase after sharing or liking an item on social media. And according to a report from Technorati media, the majority of consumers follow brands on social media to learn more about products or services.
So while we may not be at the start of an e-commerce revolution quite yet, businesses and marketers should definitely keep an eye on the social media shopping tools being launched over the next year.