Mobile Shopping, Social Networks Gain Traction With Consumers

Among social networks, Facebook was the most likely to be used for deciding on gifts, with 19 percent of consumers turning to it this holiday season.

social networks and ecommerce

Smartphones will be a significant part of how consumers shop this holiday season, with all consumer segments using them to assist in shopping—yet the ratio is significantly higher among younger generations, according to a survey from PunchTab, an engagement and insights platform.

Among all consumers, 35 percent plan to use their smartphone for browsing items in online stores; comparing prices among different stores and looking for coupons also ranked as objectives for smartphone usage.

When it comes to smartphone use while already shopping in-store, most consumers (38 percent) use them for communicating with others through text, phone or email to get input about a purchase.

"When it comes to holiday shopping, consumers have their money in-hand and they're looking to brands to tell them what they want. It shouldn't be so much work for the consumer," Mike Mansbach, CEO of PunchTab, told eWEEK. "Technology has created ways to make shopping experiences a win-win, and yet few brands have adopted that technology."

Among the consumers surveyed, taking pictures of items (36 percent) was followed by comparing prices at other retailers (34 percent), also known as showrooming.

The survey also revealed that among men, comparing prices is the No. 1 reason for smartphone usage in-store, while women are more likely to use their mobile phone for all tasks except checking prices at other stores and reading online reviews.

Among social networks specifically, Facebook was the most likely to be used for deciding on gifts, with 19 percent of all consumers turning to the network this holiday season.

"Technology has created multiple dialogue opportunities with the increase of social media channels," Mansbach said. "Almost half of Millennials will use some social media channel when holiday shopping. These purchase-hungry shoppers are present in multiple places; brands need to be also."

Pinterest (14 percent) and YouTube (7 percent) followed, and the report found that almost 50 percent of Millennials will use some social media channel while shopping this holiday season.

Nearly 70 percent of older generations will not use any social media channels, and women are more likely than men to use Pinterest.

The report also found that this year, nearly 77 percent of consumers across all demographic groups plan to spend the same or more on holiday shopping.

Despite this, more than 58 percent of holiday shopping dollars are up for grabs, with most shoppers either undecided or likely to spend 50 percent or less at the same stores they purchased from last year.

"We know brands want to deeply connect with and understand their consumers. We also know consumers want to deeply connect with the brands they like," Mansbach said. "Third parties like retailers make this harder. And it's more a siloed systems issue than a philosophy issue for many enlightened brands and retailers. Technology solves this today by optimizing for the consumer, the brand and the retailer by collapsing silos of data and automating how, where and what messaging, suggestions and offers the consumer receives."