Lockdown leads to a 95% sales increase in social commerce as a fifth of Brits become social shoppers

During lockdown, Britain’s consumers have flocked to Facebook, Instagram and Google Shopping for their spending sprees

The home delivery expert ParcelHero predicts a 95% increase in sales of products discovered on social media and says potential growth is unlimited if UK platforms introduce checkouts.

Even after 15 June, when most non-essential shops will reopen, sociable shopping will remain off-limits thanks to continuing social distancing measures. However, new research reveals that online shopping has become an increasingly sociable activity thanks to a lockdown boom in social commerce. The closure of many High Street favourites has fuelled a 95% increase in shoppers discovering new products on social media compared with 2017, forecasts the home delivery expert ParcelHero.

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Seeing a product on social media

ParcelHero’s latest research found 16% of UK consumers had purchased items via social media at the beginning of the year, and that figure has soared to 20% during lockdown. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says that, by the end of 2020, nearly 11 million British shoppers will have splashed the cash after first seeing a product on social media. That’s despite the fact that, unlike the USA, most platforms still don’t have a checkout here in the UK.

Says David: ‘Almost 30% of millennials and one in four Generation Zs have bought an item online during lockdown that they first saw on social media. Instagram, Facebook, Google and You Tube have all inspired purchases, often after viewing posts from bloggers, celebrities and friends.

Exponential growth through lockdown

‘Back in December 2019, long before the lockdown hit, research released by the social commerce specialist Curalate revealed a 79% increase in UK shoppers discovering new products on social media compared with 2017. Instagram alone enjoyed a 64% increase in UK surfers using the platform to find shopping inspiration. We believe this growth continued exponentially as lockdown dragged on this year.

‘It’s jaw-droppingly hard to believe, but there’s still no checkout on Instagram here in Britain, nor is there on Facebook Pay. Also, in another slap in the face to UK stores venturing into social media selling, Google continues to charge retailers to place their products on the Google Shopping search page here in the UK, despite dropping these charges in the USA.

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Seeking new ways to reach consumers

‘Nonetheless, 24% of UK businesses were selling products via social media at the beginning of the year. That’s likely to have risen to around 30% following lockdown as desperate sellers sought new ways to reach consumers.

‘Plus, just in case you think social media shopping isn’t, well, sociable enough, there’s even a new app enabling friends to clothes shop on a site together. Users of the new Squadded Shopping Party browser extension can invite their mates to shop on a site with them and create a poll, share favourite designs and create outfits. In the UK, it works on stores including ASOS, Boohoo, Misguided, Zara and Topshop.

No trader can afford to remain anti-social

‘UK retailers who are still not using social media need to rethink their strategies fast. The impact of Covid-19 on shopping routines is likely to last many more months. Every retailer needs to be a social climber. It’s shocking that there is still very little opportunity to buy direct from social media platforms in the UK, but nonetheless, the likes of Instagram and Facebook now inspire many thousands of purchases a day. No trader can afford to remain anti-social.

‘Most physical stores may be opening on Monday, 15 June, but sellers shouldn’t be distracted from the huge change in how Brits shop due to the growth of social media. Social commerce is growing exponentially. Britain’s couriers continued picking up from businesses and warehouses nationwide throughout lockdown. Shipping products directly to customers is just as easy as it ever has been for specialist retailers, no matter on what platform the sale was made.

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