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ANALYSIS From Facebook to YouTube: What social media companies are doing about retail

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Social media has long been important for retailers, who use it to talk to their customers. They take complaints on Twitter, they have a chat with them over Facebook, they show them how on YouTube and they inspire them on Pinterest. Of late, however, these social giants have taken a fresh look at enabling the sale on their own platform. We’ve taken a look at where the key players are up to.


Just when you thought F-commerce was all over, Facebook is now reported to be trialling shoppable brand pages. Social media users, it seems, will be able to carry out the whole transaction, from finding a product to checking it out via the website. Mobile is behind change: as more of us spend more of our time on just a few mobile apps (and Facebook’s is among the most popular) we’re less likely to click away to browse a retail website or app.

Georges Berzgal, managing director Europe at Bronto Software , said of the move: “Retailers know social media is a powerful tool for them to tell their story. The advocacy it can generate from users gives brands additional credibility but so far, companies have struggled to drive direct revenue from their social activities. As platforms and social media behaviours evolve, brands should continue to test and adapt their social media strategy.”


Wayfair and Sephora are among the US retailers already using Google Shopping’s TrueView technology overlaid on YouTube videos to enable shoppers to buy from their videos. The two are targeting their customers to connect in “a more intimate way” that, promises YouTube owner Google, can “create brand lift and loyalty while still driving conversions and sales.” The retailers can monitor how video watchers behave, and what makes them buy.


Google went on to unveil its own ‘Purchase with Google’ button recently, though as yet there’s no firm date on when it will go live.


Twitter is still testing in the US the ability to buy from tweets. UK retailer Burberry was among the first to adopt the new approach, which saw shoppers able to click on a buy button in the tweet to see the product details and then add shipping and payment information. Once entered and confirmed, order information is sent to the merchant for delivery.

One of the latest to try out the functionality is American football team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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