In Q1, eMarketer predicted that global B2C eCommerce sales will reach $1.5 trillion by the end of 2014 (a 20.1% increase over last year) due in part to the growth of Internet availability and a mobile use base in emerging markets. In response, many major brands are extending their reach internationally. This year, Asia Pacific (APAC) consumers are expected to spend the most on eCommerce purchases, surpassing North America for the first time ever.
"Social is an important part of any marketer's mix. A big portion of our new subscribers comes from a "refer a friend," and we're going to continue using our customers' networks to grow our business." - Barry Judge, CMO of LivingSocial
Last month, eMarketer released its 17-page Social eCommerce Roundup, exploring the impact that social media has in driving sales and brand awareness for retailers online. With over half (54%) of all US residents estimated to use social networking sites at least monthly this year, and the vast majority logging in to Facebook, the social media giant remains top of mind for eCommerce companies looking to boost their advertising reach.
Here are some highlights from eMarketer's roundup of trends and stats, as well as bonus material from comScore's Pulse of the Online Shopper study:
Facebook still reigns supreme amongst media buyers and users alike
As you can see from the chart above, US digital buyers strongly favor promoting brands and products that they are satisfied with on Facebook over any other social media site, far surpassing second-place Twitter by 52%. The good news for those investing in newsfeed, promoted page posts and right hand side ads? One in five respondents reported that they have used Facebook to make a purchase decision.
These stats should be particularly of interest for brands targeting millennials, as this younger demographic is heavily influenced by peer recommendations and opinions. Keep in mind, the appeal of Facebook's ads is also social context; if a shopper "likes" a brand's page, connected friends and family will see this "like" when viewing the brand's ads on desktop and mobile.
Paid advertising is not the only way that brands are engaging consumers. Including social media sharing buttons and soliciting consumer reviews on website landing pages are easy ways eCommerce companies can build more of a relationship with online shoppers and build trust, turning media channels into not just a marketplace but a research tool for other consumers. Referral programs, loyalty bonuses and free sample incentives are also popular methods.
Business Insider came out with a staggering figure in August: $4 trillion in items will be abandoned in shopping carts this year. Here's one potential reason why: as purchasing incentives go, it turns out free shipping heavily influences consumer decisions. Of comScore's consumer study respondents, 58% revealed that they have spent more on an order just to get free shipping, and 30% admitted they have delayed making a purchase until free shipping was offered.
Another reason could simply be that mobile purchasing technology has not been able to keep up with the explosive growth of mobile use. Online shoppers still cite desktop computers as their go-to resource for research, and 41% of respondents prefer a retailer's website over its mobile counterpart (34) or app (25%).
With the back to school season once again around the corner, and the holidays not far behind, eCommerce companies are in prime position to see their strongest two quarters of the year, provided they pay attention to consumer behavior across all digital channels and adapt accordingly. Meanwhile, as devices, targeting methods and ad types continue to evolve, Facebook advertising remains a steady bet.