While overall social media use clearly remains high among consumers, concerns related to security, privacy, and legitimacy are sabotaging social commerce, reveals a new study from digital commerce consulting firm SUMO Heavy exploring the impact of social media on consumer behavior and how emerging social features like messaging chatbots can better serve brands and retailers.
The 2018 Social Commerce Revisited report is based on a nationwide survey of consumers, aiming to identify how people interact with different social channels and technology during their online shopping journey. The survey revisits questions posed in the firm’s 2016 Social Commerce Survey and compares the results to the realities of social commerce behavior and adoption in 2018.
Interactions with messaging chatbots remain low in number, but they have been received positively by consumers. Familiarity with conversational commerce, or shopping through chatbots on messaging apps, remains low, though use was expected to increase.
Social media’s influence is on the rise, but social commerce transactions have stalled
Fifty-eight percent of respondents said social media influences their purchasing decisions today, compared to 45 percent in 2016. Despite the recent hype around social commerce—a method of shopping directly through a social media platform like Instagram’s “Shoppable Tags”—82 percent of consumers have yet to transact using social buy buttons or other forms of social commerce.
Consumer awareness is high but so are concerns
Eighty percent of shoppers are familiar with social commerce, but security and privacy concerns keep them from transacting.
Chatbots are gaining favor as a trusted resource
Seventy-two percent of people who have used chatbots find them to be helpful and informative. Better yet, 74 percent of shoppers are now open to making a purchase through a chatbot, compared to 55 percent in 2016.
“It’s no surprise that social media use is as high as ever. Checking and updating these platforms has become a daily routine for the average consumer,” says Bart Mroz, co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy, in a news release. “But ethical concerns regarding privacy and user data have made consumers skeptical when it comes to making transactions via social channels or chatbots. The niche audience of consumers who have had positive experiences, however, signals a future increase in adoption as they become more aware of the benefits of social media shopping and conversational commerce.”
Data from the new survey suggests that brands and retailers must continue to leverage social media channels in new ways to market and sell to their customers. While most shoppers have yet to transact directly through these channels, businesses should look to invest in the future of social media shopping and emerging social technology as overall consumer sentiment evolves from neutral to positive in the coming years.
The survey, conducted in May 2018, includes responses from 1,046 U.S. consumers ages 18 and over. 53 percent of respondents identify as women and 47 percent identify as men.