How does new technology affect your shopping?

Just in time for the Christmas shopping season, we thought that we would take a look at how social media and technology have affected shopping habits.  Back in the 1990’s, shoppers flocked to the stores, crowded in dressing rooms, and waited at register lines to buy Christmas gifts.  Now with new apps on the market and the convenience of shopping at home on your computer, shopping habits have changed.  For instance:

1. Discreet is Preferred – 45% of shoppers buy items online that they wouldn’t in person.  Source: Lab42
2. Free Shipping – People are more likely to buy online if the offer is accompanied by free shipping
3. Preference for Web – 66% of consumers prefer web retailers. Source: Lab42
4. Customer Reviews – Most on-line stores now provide recommendations along with products that show positive customer reviews, negative customer reviews, and the retailer’s description.  This often makes shoppers feel more informed and confident about their purchase.

Other reasons that consumers give for shopping on-line include a broader selection of items, cost-savings, and better sales and promotions.  Some more interesting trends include the use of social media for customer service.

Customer Service

While the more traditional lines of customer service like E-mail, Chat, and Phone still apply, more and more consumers are going to social media for customer service.  The Lab42 study showed that 67% of respondents said that the company responded more quickly through social media than through other customer service avenues.  Additionally, 43% of respondent’s thought that the company listened to their opinion more when communicating through social media.

The Rise of Smart Phones

According to the Pew Center, 66% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 own a smart phone.  In total, there are approximately 115.80 million smart phone users in the United States currently and by 2013 this number is expected to reach close to 160 million users.  Source StatistaMay consumers are using these smart phones to not only look for sales and deals, but also to research products and read reviews about products.  Nielson reported this year that almost 50% of smart phone users would use shopping apps for monthly purchases.  Additionally, 64% of smart phone users use their phones to shop online with and without apps.

Other Avenues

Twitter is a surprising player in the on-line shopping world.  According to a recent article, 40% of users utilize Twitter to search for products.  Also, not only do consumers go to Facebook to ask opinions from their families and friends about what products to buy, many said that they would discuss a product/service if they were offered a discount.

Companies are becoming savvy with using this social media information.  Many are using this valuable data to personalize the shopping experience for their customers and offer deals based upon what is purchased in real-time.  With a predicted 167 million people shopping online this year and spending an average of $1800 per person, it is a smart move by companies to pay close attention to this emerging way of buying.

For more on the latest trends in technology and social media go to Eric Wagner’s Marketing Blog.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti

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Eric Wagner

Eric is a CEO with a background in marketing and search engine optimization specialist (SEO). In his free time, Eric enjoys exercise, gardening, technology, a good book, and spending time with family and friends.

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