Shoppers are likely to spend more than ever before online this Christmas, but not on social networks, according to new research from e-commerce firm GSI Commerce.
The firm's 2009 Consumer eTail report found - unsurprisingly, given that GSI creates and runs online sites for high street brands - that bricks and mortar stores need to ready their online channels for a bumper Christmas.
A quarter of the 2,000+ UK consumers surveyed said they are willing to spend more than £1000 on a product online this year, compared with just 12 per cent in 2008, while the number who claim they will cap their spending at £250 or less per product has fallen from 48 per cent last year to 32 per cent this.
However, more interestingly, the study revealed that social networks are perhaps yet to come of age when it comes to direct purchases. Only nine per cent claimed that they would be likely to do so through sites like Facebook and MySpace, with 28 per cent saying that they would be "positively unlikely" to do so.
Steve Davis, president international GSI Commerce, said that although some retailers are launching transactional stores on social networks, such as 1-800-Flowers in the US, "features such as these will fail to make a significant sales impact in the short term".
"Social networks are fantastic forums to listen and engage with your customers but, as the data reveals, at the moment, in the vast majority of cases, they are simply inappropriate for transactional interactions," he added.
"While there is no doubt that incorporating features like these will result in a corporate PR benefit to a retailer, the question they need to be asking is not 'what cool stuff can we add to our store' but 'where can we add value for our customers'."
Now all of this is undoubtedly true at present, but whether this trend will continue indefinitely remains to be seen.
Just as consumers have gradually thawed to the idea of spending their money in online stores, so buying directly from within their Facebook page may be a tempting option, as more retailers begin to tout their wares through these alternative channels.
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