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Online Shopping Behavior: Data from Smart Phones and Social Media

If you’ve ever used your phone to shop online, you’re part of a growing group of 167 million people worldwide. Backtrack to 20 years ago, and no one would have thought that you could buy all sorts of things online. This was when people valued the “try and buy“ method where they would rather be able see things up close before deciding whether to get it. If you had told them that they’d one day be able buy things off the Internet (let alone using a small handheld device), they’d think you were nuts.

This group of 167 million people is definitely taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping, and you’d be surprised at just how valuable social media is when it comes to helping businesses make a sale.

Online Shopping as a Whole

Up to 64% of people who own smartphones use their phones to shop online. The average smartphone buyer would spend an average of $1,800 per year. And that’s across a wide range of products like clothing, cosmetics, books and even appliances. Fifty-one percent of online shoppers would consider social media sites as credible sources for information about a product or service they are interested in. When it comes to location services, 33% of smart phone users have shared their location with a retail company, whereas 62% of those who don’t have location-based services hope to have those functions on their phones.


Shopping from a Social Media Standpoint

When it comes to social media, businesses both big and small provide tons of shopping opportunities for users. Facebook even has an integrated shop function that users can look at when they’re at the Facebook page of the brand they like. You’d be surprised to know that social media is home to some of the most active shoppers online.

Facebook has 1 billion active users, wherein 60% of them are open to discussions about a product or service, especially if they were offered a deal or discount. Twitter, on the other hand, has up to 7,854 new accounts each day. At its peak, there are around 175 million tweets being published on that day alone.

Pinterest is also a popular social media site for those who love infographics, images and pictures. There is a wealth of unexpected information when it comes to how users would use Pinterest to gather information on a product they want.

  • 34% of users would seek out information for events such as clearance sales, end of season sales or online shop sales
  • 36% read or post comments about goods and services online, whether it’s a good experience, a negative review or just an inquiry.
  • 43% would look around for more information on the product they want such as other available styles, sizes, prints and so on.
  • 51% of Pinterest users admit to checking for coupons and deals like voucher codes, free shipping and freebies that come with their orders.

The User Experience

So what do people do with their time online or on their phones whenever they’re looking to buy something online? Do they just go to a trusted brand and exclusively buy there? Or are they swayed by cheaper prices and free shipping? Here are some insights on how users behave when they’re browsing online.

practical user experience

Below is a list of how much social media and community tools affect buyers:

  • 59% are affected by customer reviews
  • 14% are affected by question and answer or FAQ pages
  • 26% are affected by Internet forums where people are free to discuss a product
  • 15% are affected by user generated videos where users share their experiences with a product
  • 13% are affected by the site’s Facebook fan page
  • Another 13% are affected by their Facebook newsfeed
  • Mobile site functions and Twitter each affect 9% of the users. However, up to 40% of Twitter users who shop online would search for a product or service using Twitter.

You may also wonder how online shoppers would use their phones whenever they’re shopping online. Here are the numbers for their online shopping behaviour:

  • 24% would check out the prices for certain products on the official retail mobile site of a brand
  • 26% would ensure that the shop had the product they want in their inventory.
  • 27% are swayed by prices as they would use sites that focus on giving the most competitive prices
  • 29% would search for other online retailers other than Amazon
  • But 31% would still compare the prices of a product with those found on Amazon
  • 31% have checked out different online stores for different products
  • 32% would search for product reviews and ratings for the product they want
  • 33% would read up on information on the physical store
  • 33% would actively search for sales and special prices

How Retailers are Responding

Like shopping in physical stores, there are also long lines when it comes to checkout. Businesses like Apple are also trying to eliminate this problem for online users as this can lead to lost sales. Online retailers are also working to advertise their products online using social media to reach more people. They are able to obtain information from social media and smart phone data to give users targeted offers based on what they’re checking out online. In fact, by using the data they gathered from social media, they can analyze the behavior of customers, and address their needs.


The online shopping experience is increasingly more expansive and diverse. Businesses are benefiting immensely from all the opportunities that the Internet offers. This is surely associated with the fact that more and more people are getting involved and making use of its convenience. As a result, businesses are now able to try new ways of promoting their products and making sales. So if your business is looking into some e-commerce, you should definitely use this information to figure out which platforms are right for you!

Photo used in feature: CC-BY-2.0 2010 Johan Larsson, modified

The post Online Shopping Behaviour: Data from Smart Phones and Social Media appeared first on Social Garden.

Join The Conversation

  • Jun 17 Posted 3 years ago Suresh Suri

    Interesting article. Online shopping has become the trend now and consumers are increasingly finding it easier to buy things according to their requirements all of which are available under one platform. Adopting new and innovative technologies will certainly help retailers connect with their consumers more effectively. I work for McGladrey and there's a whitepaper on our website that offers good information on the above topic that readers will find very helpful @

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