New Research: How Retailers are Connecting with the New Online Consumer

New research from Retail Systems Research finds that all retailers – from “Winners” to “Laggards” – are struggling to keep up with a new environment where mobile and social make larger contributions to online revenues – forcing a shift in priorities for the online channel.

Changing Perceptions and Priorities

Fewer retailers are identifying themselves as purely online-only retailers, and an increasing number of retailers are reporting the inclusion of social networks and mobile sites in their portfolio of channels.

What’s exciting here is that Social is driving “change in how retailers  retailers define “eCommerce.” Whereas previous surveys “showed retailers trending toward a consensus on the size of online sales” that might someday exceed 15% at most, “that opinion has shifted – thanks in large part of the potential for mobile and social to contribute to what is counted as “online sales.”  Leveraging social networks has become a much bigger priority for retailers, with 52% seeing it as a “very valuable” opportunity vs. 39% the previous year. It’s an opportunity that is still untapped:

Overcoming Challenges

The report found a shift in priorities for investment in eCommerce capabilities.   The model we like to use to define the areas of focus is the concept of on-site vs. off-site technologies. Off-site technologies may include enabling commerce on Facebook.com, or running promotions on Twitter, or identifying and rewarding key brand advocates across the web.

What we’re seeing at Gigya among our clients and channel partners is that retailers are eager to tap into social technologies that can help drive sales. One of the highest-impact opportunities is on-site social technologies – integrating social features into retailers’ own sites so that customers don’t have to go away to be social.

On-site social technologies can help both the survey’s “Winners” as well as “Laggards” in retail. The top Business challenge among winners is “Getting consumers to engage more with us online. Creating social shopping features, from social login, to social recommendations to social personalization are a powerful way to achieve that goal, creating greater engagement, loyalty and sales.

For all retailers, keeping up with evolving consumer shopping patters including those around social networks is a top business challenge.  The Gigya platform helps address this challenge by handling the difficulties of integration for retail sites, and providing plug and play, proven GUI experiences that work across all the popular social networks.

Gigya is also providing retailers with more ways for consumers to connect to each other through the retailer’s brand, by bringing the customer’s social graph – their friends and other relevant networks – directly to the shopping experience.

The survey also asks retailers what is preventing them from making progress against key challenges, and how they can overcome key inhibitors. The solution identified as having the largest opportunity behind tasking an executive with managing, is “Investment in a streamlined technology platform or infrastructure.”  This is great news.

In and industry that is incredibly fragmented with hundreds of point solutions, we firmly believe that consolidating and integrating key on-site social technologies so that they are interoperable and seamless for the end consumer is a mission-critical first step.  Ensuring key customer data is not only captured at every social touch-point but leveraged cross-channel is going to be a key differentiator for retailers in the coming year.

Metrics

Integrated social technologies can deliver on retail KPIs:

  • Social login can increase conversion rate and decrease shopping cart abandonment for returning users, as well as provide ways to capture key data in advance of the checkout process that is critical for remarketing
  • Retailers are finding that social referrals are generating customers with increased cart sizes
  • Enabling customers to act as brand advocates and foster word of mouth is decreasing customer acquisition costs, as social becomes the next SEO


Key Questions to Ask

The report ends with some questions that retailers should ask themselves, including  “How easily can your eCommerce platform be leveraged to provide more the in-store touchpoints? Can it be extended to support mobile and social commerce?

One of the most exciting things about today’s social technologies for retail sites is that they can help bring that in-store experience to life.  Stay tuned for some exciting announcements regarding Gigya’s integration with major eCommerce platforms.

For additional reading on social commerce please consider:

By Kevin White