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Social commerce now a tool for two out of five online shoppers

Social commerce is fast becoming a reality, a new survey shows. Forty-two percent of online consumers report that they have employed social media services to evaluate products or to find deals.

Social commerce is fast becoming a reality, a new survey shows. Forty-two percent of online consumers report that they have employed social media services to evaluate products or to find deals.

These are the findings of the 2011 Social Commerce Study, a joint research project by Shop.org, comScore and Social Shopping Labs. The survey covered 1,787 adult online shoppers in April 2011. According to the survey, 42% of online consumers have followed a retailer proactively through Facebook, Twitter or a retailer’s blog, and the average person follows about six retailers.

As we reported a couple of weeks back, the "social commerce" space is a hot ticket right now , with companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial receiving billions in venture capital. Social commerce can be considered the latest evolution of e-commerce and online business, which goes beyond simple buyer and seller transactions to encompass collaborative activities, such as (as defined in Wikipedia) social shopping (co-browsing), collaborative purchasing (collective buying power), collaborative filtering (social recommendations), and even collaborative funding (e.g. Crowdfunder).

The majority of respondents (58%) to the Shop.org/comScore/Social Shopping Labs survey said they follow companies through social networking sites to find deals, while nearly half (49%) say they want to keep up to date on products. More than one-third also follow retailers for information on contests and events (39%).

Social media increasingly serves as gateways to online commerce. More than half of Facebook users (56%) say they have clicked through to a retailer’s website because of a Facebook post, while over two-thirds of Twitter users (67%) say a post has spurred them to click through to a website.

The appetite for buying directly through social networks appears strong: one-third of shoppers say they would be likely to make a purchase directly from Facebook (35%) or Twitter (32%).

Many online shoppers are using smartphones as well. The survey finds 42% of Twitter users access the site via their mobile phone at least once a day, along with 34% of Facebook users. Shoppers are also using mobile devices for research and information while shopping in stores. Nearly half of consumers (47%) have accessed customer reviews in store using their mobile devices.

Eight in 10 (82%) online consumers are aware of group-buying sites, such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Gilt City, though only 19% of survey respondents have actually made a purchase through one of the sites. Those who do leverage group-buying sites appear to be enthusiasts, as the majority of consumers (57%) have spent over $100 through these sites to date.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com