The emergence of social media has had the largest affect on the retail industry according to merchants, with services like Facebook and Twitter giving bricks and mortar retailers “newfound potential”. Retailers surveyed by KPMG for its latest report cite mobile and online shopping as having the second-largest impact on their business.
“Once thought to be in danger of becoming obsolete, brick and mortar stores are now viewed with newfound potential, and somewhat ironically, this is largely being driven by what was once perceived as a threat to its traditional business model: new technology”, says the report.
Social’s Impact Debatable
The merchants in KPMG’s study claim that establishing a social presence enables them to reach more customers and enhance their retail experience both online and offline, while customers’ use of social services throughout the purchase process, either through shared links or deals, is having a positive impact on revenues.
However, debate remains regarding the importance of social media in driving online commerce. A study from Monetate released last month claims that social media in fact drives less than 2% of major online retailers’ traffic, behind email, which accounts for 2.82% and leading method search, which drives nearly a third of traffic.
KPMG’s study illustrates mobile’s continuing impact across the retail industry, led by mobile commerce. More than half of retailers claim that mobile and online shopping has affected business, while 51% believe that the increase in promotions and coupons, both online and on mobile is a significant trend. The latter stat chimes with research from Nielsen, which asserts that shoppers are increasingly using their smartphones or tablets as the primary device from which to source deal coupons, further highlighting mobile’s role in the commerce chain. Overall, mobile shoppers will hit 580m globally by the end of next year, up from 393m in 2012, according to Juniper, as consumers become more confident using their device to buy goods. However, just 12% of retailers in KPMG’s report cited ‘showrooming’ as an impactful trend, despite the concept of physical outlets purely designed for browsing gaining coverage in recent months.
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