UK set to enter the age of 'social shopping', according to ATG research

ATG, (Art Technology Group, Inc.) provider of cross-channel commerce solutions, has released results of two recent consumer studies that offer insight into why online spending is growing so quickly, and suggest that the UK may be set to enter the age of 'Social Shopping'. These findings are especially relevant for retailers now, as they look to improve sales during the current Christmas shopping season and make plans for 2011.

UK consumers' online spending is growing, with e-retail sales predicted to reach approximately 6.4 billion in December 2010. A recent consumer study commissioned by ATG in the UK suggests some likely reasons for this continuing growth. The study, which asked consumers about their attitudes towards online shopping found that over two thirds (65 per cent) of UK shoppers rate their online experience as either "good" or "very good," with a quarter (25 per cent) particularly favouring their ability to find what they want straight away, when shopping online. A further fifth of consumers (21 per cent) like the ability to easily compare like-for-like products at the click of a button. A quarter (25 per cent) of customers were found to value the ability to choose their own shopping channel, whether it's online, in-store, from a catalogue or a Smartphone device, showing that cross-channel shoppers are increasingly becoming retailers most valuable customers.  

A separate study conducted by ATG in the US, titled "Consumer Shopping Experiences, Preferences, and Behaviours, gives an insight into the trends that could come to UK shores in 2011. The research found that social media is becoming increasingly important to a broad range of age groups. For instance, 29 per cent of respondents aged 18-34 said they have discovered a product or service through a social network and 37 per cent of those same consumers said it was "important" or "very important" that merchants provide an opportunity to interact through social networks. The survey also revealed that older demographics are also demanding advanced shopping capabilities. While consumers over age 55 are less likely to leverage social media or use their mobile devices for commerce activities, ATG's study shows they have come to rely on more advanced on-site shopping tools like live help and recommendations.

Frank Lord, Vice President EMEA at ATG, comments: "Consumers want to shop using the channel that best suits them. Thanks to the pervasiveness of the web and advances in technology, it is now easier than ever for consumers to make purchases at the click of a button. Success for retailers and brands alike now hinges on the implementation of social functionalities that allow consumers to not only share opinions on products but to also connect and share. Now we are in the midst of one of the busiest shopping periods of the year it will be interesting to monitor what social strategies brands adopt online to help drive sales. The emergence of the social shopping trend will certainly be one to watch in 2011."

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