It’s more important to bring social networks into your store than the other way around

Most of the focus on social shopping has been on how stores can build a presence on Facebook and Twitter.  But new research from BIGResearch for Shop.Org suggests this is backwards.  Online stores will likely benefit far more from bringing the social networks of their shoppers into the buying experience within the store.  Here’s why:

[Social networks] are rarely the starting point for shopping per se. When we asked consumers, “Where do you typically start your online shopping? (Check all that apply)”, consumers told us that they are most likely to start their online shopping at merchant Web sites (almost three-quarters), search engines / directories (one third), and catalogs or offline stores (about a quarter) — with social media sites trailing far behind.

So if you want to truly tap into the power of your customer base and the social network of your shoppers to influence purchases, do it ON YOUR SITE.  That’s where real buyers come to do their research.  And that means leveraging tools like Facebook Connect to make all that social data available to shoppers when they’re really in-market.  (TurnTo can make this easy.)

Here’s data from the report, available here. (You must be a Shop.Org member for access.)