Close this search box.

Social: Reach out to customers

RetailX research reveals how the use of social media differs between Growth 2000 and Top500 retailers.

Much of the online conversation about retail takes place well beyond retail websites. Many shoppers spend at least as much time on social channels as they do actively buying, so it makes sense for retailers to extend their presence there as well.

The Social Dimension looks at how Growth 2000 (G2K) retailers use social media channels, whether they have their own pages or accounts on the five primary platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, or whether they use social checkouts to enable shoppers to buy more easily. Researchers compared G2K findings with how Top500 retailers use social channels.

How do G2K retailers compare to the Top500 on social media use?

Almost all members of the G2K index have a presence on Facebook. Some 93% of the index maintain a page on the leading social media network, putting them not far behind the 96% of Top500 retailers that do so. But there’s more of a gap between the way the two groups of retailers use other social media networks.

Some 84% of G2K retailers operate a Twitter account, compared to 93% of Top500 retailers. Their Twitter accounts have a median 6,244 followers, while Top500 accounts have a median of 32,597, a metric that gives another illustration of the size of the gap between the two groups.

When it comes to Instagram, 73% of index members are present on this channel, as are 85% of Top500 retailers. More than half (56%) of G2K retailers are on YouTube, but that is well behind the 83% of Top500 retailers with a presence. Finally, Pinterest is used by 47% of the G2K and by 68% of the Top500. This suggests that while the work associated with running one social media channel is well within reach of smaller retailers, they are less equipped to maintain a presence across all five of these channels, so may be outpaced by larger retailers with larger teams.

Almost half (44%) of G2K retailers enable shoppers to share a product they found with friends, using social media. That’s 1 percentage point (pp) up on the previous year and ahead of the Top500, where 38% enable product sharing. Sharing products via social is most commonly found among those selling music, film and TV products (60%), jewellery (54%) and fashion footwear (51%).

It is least common among marketplaces (25%) as well as those selling automotive goods (25%) and health products (31%). The biggest increase in the use of this feature can be seen in the books (+5pp to 48%), cosmetics (+4pp to 51%) and garden (+4pp to 47%) categories, and the biggest declines in the trade and DIY tools and equipment (-3pp to 37%) and automotive goods (-3pp to 25%) categories.

Some 50% of G2K retailers enable shoppers to share their opinions of a product through a rating. That’s unchanged since 2018. But the use of product ratings varies within categories. Most health retailers (77%) enable customers to rate products, followed by those selling drink (72%) and cosmetics (65%).

Product ratings are least commonly found among those selling fashion clothing (36%) and footwear (37%). The biggest changes in use are in the grocery (+4pp to 50%), drinks (+3pp to 72%), health (+3pp to 77%), sports and leisure footwear (-3pp to 53%) and jewellery (-3pp to 42%) categories. 57% of the Top500 offer product ratings.

How do retailers use social checkout?

Social checkouts can give an easy way for shoppers to use their social media credentials to sign in to a retailer’s website in order to use payment details that they have previously saved. While it makes buying easier, it also gives social media companies insights into how their users shop. That’s data that retailers miss out on since the relationship with the customer goes through the social channel rather than the retail one. Nonetheless, it’s a trade-off that retailers may want to make in order to gain additional sales sparked through interest on social media.

RetailX research found that social media checkouts are used by a small minority of both the G2K and the Top500, although slightly more common among G2K retailers. Amazon Pay, for example, is used by 10% of the 1,795 G2K retailers measured in both 2018 and 2019. It is used by 8% of the Top500. It is most popular among retailers selling home and industrial appliances (16%) and sports and outdoor equipment (15%) and least used among those selling books (5%).

Perhaps this is because book retailers see Amazon as a competitor in a way that other retailers might not. 6% of stationery and craft retailers use it. Between 2018 and 2019, uptake of Amazon Pay grew in the garden (+5pp to 8%) and grocery (+4 to 10%) sectors but fell in the software (-3pp to 10%) and music, film and TV sectors (-2pp to 8%).

Facebook’s checkout is used by 10% of the G2K, up from 9% in 2019, and by 8% of the Top500. It is mostly used in the cosmetics (21%) and fashion footwear (17%) categories, and least widely used among those selling trade and DIY tools and equipment (3%), grocery (5%) and drinks (5%).

Uptake also grew in the cosmetics (5pp to 21%) and marketplaces (+4pp to 13%) categories between 2018 and 2019, but has fallen among retailers selling software (-5pp to 11%) and children’s toys and accessories (-3pp to 10%).

Google’s checkout is used by 6% of the G2K, after uptake grew by 1pp between 2018 and 2019, and by 5% of the Top500. It is most widely used by retailers selling health (11%), cosmetics (9%) and fashion footwear (9%), and least widely used by those operating in the garden (0%), books (0%) and trade and DIY tools and equipment categories (2%). The biggest changes in use were seen in the cosmetics (+4pp to 9%) and software (-5pp to 5%) categories.

By contrast, more than a third (37%) of the G2K offer payment through PayPal, well ahead of the 29% of Top500 retailers who do so. PayPal is most widely used by retailers selling sports and outdoor equipment (49%), marketplaces (48%), and children’s toys and accessories (47%). It is least commonly used among retailers selling groceries (19%) and drinks (22%).

Uptake between 2018 and 2019 was particularly strong among marketplaces (+8pp) and retailers selling cosmetics (+7pp to 48%) and children’s toys (+6pp to 47%). There were marked declines among retailers selling groceries (-6pp to 16%) and automotive goods (-6pp to 37%).

But the largest group – 42% – of G2K retailers requires shoppers to register or sign in before they buy, although this was down by 11pp from 53% a year earlier. This is slightly lower than the 55% of Top500 retailers who ask their customers to register to buy.

Half of all sports and leisure clothing and footwear retailers require customers to sign in, while only 29% of those selling groceries do so, along with 38% of those selling children’s toys and accessories and health products.

Marketplaces make up the only group where more retailers asked shoppers to sign in (+4pp to 45%), while retailers selling health (-18pp to 38%) and music, film and TV products (-15pp to 48%) saw the practice decline.

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on