EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2900 - September 26, 2012     4 of 5

How Can Social Networking Drive Sales?

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A new report from Forrester Research found that less than 1% of transactions for new and repeat customers in a recent study could be traced back to social links. The report, The Purchase Path Of Online Buyers In 2012, examined the data for 77,000 consumer orders made between April 1 and April 14, 2012.

The study's author, Forrester Research VP and principal analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, told Internet Retailer, "We've known for awhile that Facebook hasn't been a direct sales channel for most companies and it never will be."

The Forrester report looked at transactions conducted on large retail sites serviced by GSI Commerce. Meanwhile, online marketplaces also report difficulty driving traffic - never mind sales - from social sites. EcommerceBytes collected data from five online marketplaces that received a total of 100+ million visitors during the past year and found that the top three social networking traffic-drivers - Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter - accounted for just 1.1% of the total 100 million visitors to these marketplaces.

ComScore is out with a new report, and the research firm said, "While social media sites may be effective at surfacing interesting commercial content, they have not yet figured out a scalable way to immediately drive purchase." However, it thinks it has found a social networking site that's cracked the code on ecommerce,

"With Fancy, if a visitor sees an incredible picture someone posted, he/she clicks the picture, and it literally provides a checkout option with the click. The layout feels like a cool blog, but everything on the page is immediately available to buy. How many millions of interesting items have people seen on blogs, only to never move past the picture on the screen to actually purchase it? What if the items that you are pinning, tweeting, posting, were easily available for you to buy it right then and there? Fancy is hoping (and betting) you’ll do exactly that."

Comscore asks, "As more and more people become "trendsetters" and "tastemakers" and "influencers", will the e-commerce tide shift away from large retail sites to trendy blogs?" and, it says, "I think it's safe to say the days of social media being on the sidelines of direct-to-consumer e-commerce are numbered."

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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