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Social commerce set to be key in 2011

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Social commerce will be the big online shopping story of 2011, according to new Ovum research.

The technology analysts predict that shopping through social media will start to be felt in 2011, despite a slow start. Other key ecommerce channels will include mobile phones and television sets with an internet connection.

The move towards social commerce will be led on sites such as Facebook, where “substantial growth” is expected to be seen.

Christine Bardwell, Ovum analyst, who has produced a new report on retail technology said: “Contrary to the current waves of cynicism in the UK retail sector, 2011 will be the year when social commerce will really take off.

“In the UK, the leading retail brands have been slow to adopt a strategy for social commerce and the success stories have been few and far between. However, it offers good sales potential in 2011 and will be the big story in retail technology. It definitely should not be disregarded as a fad.

“Retailers will start to take a serious stance on social shopping in 2011 and we will see more and more products and services available for us to buy when we log on to catch up with our friends.”

Elsewhere Bardwell predicts a “scramble” as retailers look to get involved in the growing m-commerce market, and also they should be looking ahead to the phenomenon that will be televisions with internet connections. “There are definitely signs that this will be a channel that opens up for retailers in the near future. We will start to see the option to click through consumers’ favourite soap operas or music videos to make a purchase.”

It’s important, says Bardwell, for retailers to keep pace with the fast pace at which new shopping channels are introduced. Multichannel shopping, after all, is known to boost total retail spend by as much as a third. “Integrating all these channels is the key to driving repeat business, which is crucial as the days of high growth on the high street are over and the signs are that the online market is starting to mature and should not be relied on for long-term growth.”

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