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Shopping is ‘almost entirely social’

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Consumers are far more likely to trust social contacts including friends and family than retailers when it comes to deciding what to buy, according to new research. Indeed, by the time they arrive at a retailer’s website, they have already decided what they will buy, and spend just six minutes of a 24-hour purchase journey there, found the study commissioned by social commerce company Reevoo.

While 70% of shoppers rate friends’ recommendations as important, just 28% value recommendations from a shop assistant. Some 62% value consumer reviews, and 35% the media, found the survey of 1,200 people, carried out by FlyResearch.

Social commerce and mobiles are increasingly part of the decision-making process, with 39% going to Facebook when researching a purchase decision and 38% pulling out their smartphone, even when standing in a high street shop.

Some 87% look at consumer reviews before making a purchase, and 69% are more likely to give those review credence when they can see bad as well as good reviews. And shoppers are also more likely to look for independent feedback when considering buying from a small or lesser-known retailer: some 73% buying in these circumstances look for feedback; 58% specifically for service reviews. On the side of the coin, only 24% believe their behaviour is influenced by advertising.

Revoo, which today launches a portfolio of new social commerce products, says the scale of the social input into the purchase decision is “previously unimagined”. Its chief executive and founder, Richard Anson, said: "Our latest research shows that today's purchase process is almost entirely social. This is because, before people buy anything, their first thought is to take advice from their family, friends and even from total strangers. And they get this advice from both established and evolving social channels, including consumer reviews and social networks such as Facebook.

“We already know that invoking social content results in incremental sales, on average delivering an uplift of 18%.

"The impact of consumers attaching the greatest importance to social channels is that control of the shopping process is being taken completely out of the hands of the retailers. Reevoo cannot give that control back to retailers again – that genie is well and truly out of the bottle – but what we can do, and are doing, is give all retailers, big and small, very welcome solutions that enable them to participate in and influence the process again.”

He added: "Trust is, by definition, hard to build, easy to lose, and harder still to rebuild once lost. The retailers that proactively build the most trust, win. It'll always be up to retailers and brands then to do the things that generate trust, such as provide good post-sales service. But our new products enable brands to tell their customers how good they are, and allows consumers to discover and act upon such peer opinions for themselves.”

You can download the report by clicking here.

Our view: In a way today’s findings from Reevoo are not news at all. It’s many of us know from our own experience to be the case. Our emails are full of retail marketing messages, but we'd prefer to ask around people we know and trust to find out which retailers we can trust, particularly when we’re parting with our hard-earned cash to buy something we know little about.

As the company’s Richard Anson says, it’s a flashback to what used to happen. “Fifty years ago,” he said, “you would have known your shopkeeper very well, you would have known your fellow shoppers, been able to ask questions, and known if this was a retailer to use or one to avoid. Today, even though people are disparate and geographically widespread, they are actually becoming much closer via social network platforms… really, the past is becoming the present again.” The onus is still with retailers: to offer us service that we really do want to tell our friends about.

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