The number of internet users visiting social networking sites has increased fourfold to 48.9 per cent in the last two years, according to the latest research from e-retail membership community IMRG and the British Population Survey (BPS).
More than half of the UK population now accesses the internet each day, but the report indicates that the proportion of internet users using search engines has dropped by 0.5 per cent to 73.2 per cent during the first half of 2010.
IMRG suggests that these patterns show why online retailers must consider the influence social media has on consumers’ purchasing decisions, and why they should not just rely on search alone to attract internet shoppers.
A further finding from the survey is that 23 per cent of the adult population is still without internet access and nearly one-third of those who do have access to the web are not yet shopping online.
So even though June’s IMRG-Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index shows online trading was up 25 per cent year-on-year to £4.4 billion, there is still huge potential for growth in the market.
If they have not done so already, retailers should be assessing the potential of speaking to their customers through Facebook, Twitter and the various other social media portals around.
With the IMRG-BPS survey saying internet shopping has continued to grow in popularity as 2010 has drawn on, it could be a huge business opportunity lost if social media is ignored as a place to find customers.