Compared to two years ago, social media have lost some of their relevance in the "customer journey" in favour of the physical shopping experience, leaving experts somewhat puzzled and looking for an explanation.
Social media influence wanes
That remarkable conclusion comes from the "Digital Shopper Relevancy 2014" research, a study into the habits of more than 18,000 digital shoppers conducted by Capgemini. According to the participants, their physical shopping experience has a much bigger impact on their shopping behaviour than social media, whether it is Twitter, Facebook or blogs.
The shopping experience is not only of prime importance in the customer's buying behaviour, but also in the essential purchase and payment phase. No less than 72 % believes the shopping experience is "very important" or "important".
Physical stores are followed by online shopping (67 %), while social media have only been given "(very) important" tags by 37 %, which puts them at the bottom of the ladder, only in front of... call centers.
"No certain explanation"
"The study's results give us no hard-hitting explanation as to why social media have lost relevance in retail", Capgemini retail expert Kees Jacobs told RetailDetail. "We can however assume several things from the study and our market knowledge: social media are more suited for communication within one's own community, friends, family, interest groups, much more than it can help companies to get purchase-related interactions."
"If a customer wishes to shop or to get inspired, there are better ways than social media to do so. Stores, websites and several mobile applications fit the bill more. People are also more subdued by social media nowadays: it is no longer a novelty, the disadvantages have come to the surface and users have become more critical", Jacobs concluded.