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Buy Buttons Heat Up Social Commerce Competition

With Christmas a week away, the race is on for retailers to get consumers to press buttons — the “buy” buttons, that is.

Financial Times reports that the major social networks — Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, et al. — are ramping up their efforts to generate additional revenue streams this holiday season by enabling users to buy direct from their platforms.

The outlet shares research from Internet Retailer showing that, last year, social commerce sales among retailers (of those listed on the site’s Social Media 500 list) increased by 26 percent to reach $3.3 billion.

At the center of this rise in social commerce, FT attests, is the growing usage of the smartphone as a buying tool.

“The smartphone is probably the biggest single tool that people are using for mobile holiday shopping,” Thom Blischok, chief retail strategist at Strategy&, the consulting arm of PwC, told the outlet. By Blischok’s estimation, about 60 percent of holiday shoppers in the U.S. will use their smartphones to research products online.

The FT story brings up that Facebook has been testing a buy button on the Shopify platform — allowing Facebook users to make purchases without ever leaving the site — while Pinterest is well along in the rollout of its own buy button, as well as buyable pins.

A key aspect of social commerce on Facebook, FT goes on to point out, is the use of video content on the platform to draw users to retailers’ own sites — a method that Target, for example, is currently employing.

“We are going to see more and more of [consumers shopping through social channels] over the next several years, as retailers embrace social media as a legitimate commerce channel,” Robert Howard, a digital partner at consulting firm Kurt Salmon, told FT.

And soon enough, attests Howard: “The social media sites will aim to get a slice of the pie.”

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