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Consumers suspicious about in-app social media shopping

By Marjorie van Elven

26 Sept 2018


New York - While social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat have been working hard to become go-to places for shopping, consumers do not seem so excited about “buy now buttons” as one would expect, according to new research by digital commerce consulting firm Sumo Heavy Industries. The study surveyed 1046 Americans aged 18 or older to explore the impact of social media on consumer behavior and how people interact with different social channels during their online shopping journey. Turns out 82 percent of respondents have yet to use features which allow them to buy products directly through social media.

Since “buy buttons” are a rather new addition to social networks, one may be led to think most consumers are still unaware of their existence. The study revealed nothing could be further from the truth, though, as only 20 percent of surveyors said they didn’t know they could purchase items directly through social media. It’s actually a matter of trust: 71 percent of respondents said they do not use the buttons because they are concerned about security, with 65 percent of them being worried about privacy in particular. The lack of customer support is another important concern: 36 percent of those surveyed that’s the reason why they don’t use in-app shopping features.

But, even though “buy buttons” don’t seem to be working so well, social media is still a major driver of purchasing decisions: nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said they have purchased products or services they discovered thanks to social media in the past year.

Facebook’s influence is declining

The study also revealed that, while Facebook remains the most widely used social network in the United States, it is seeing a drop in usage, as consumers are becoming less trusting of Mark Zuckerberg’s platform and its data practices. 67 percent of respondents said they use Facebook regularly in comparison to 79 percent in 2016, when Sumo Heavy conducted its first survey on this topic. The platform’s influence on purchasing decisions was estimated in 38 percent.

Many users are emigrating to Instagram -- perhaps unaware that the picture-based social network is also owned by Facebook. Instagram’s usage went from 29 percent in 2016 to 38 percent in 2018, making it the second most frequently used platform in the US. Instagram’s influence also doubled from 10 percent two years ago to 22 percent this year. Snapchat is improving, too: usage nearly doubled and its influence tripled to 7 percent since 2016, but it still remains low in comparison to Facebook and Instagram.

Finally, Sumo Heavy’s survey pointed out that chatbots are welcome by American consumers: 37 percent of surveyors reported to have interacted with messaging bots, with 72 percent of them considering the experience to have been “helpful and informative”. Only 16 percent said their conversation with the chatbot offered “little to no help”.

Photo: Pixabay

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