November 18, 2013, 10:55 AM

European shoppers Like apparel brands

In Europe, six of the top 10 most Liked e-retailers on Facebook sell clothes.

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Retailers that sell in Europe don’t need to have huge web sales to attract a lot of Facebook Likes or Twitter followers. But to make it into the Top 10 of most Liked or followed retailers, it helps to sell apparel.

Six of the top 10 most Liked online merchants on Facebook in Europe sell primarily apparel and accessories and only half are among the 100 largest online retailers in the region, according to data available on Top500Guide.com.

The same is true for European retailers on Twitter: where seven of the top 10 merchants in terms of Twitter followers sell apparel, and six are ranked below No. 100 in the  Internet Retailer 2013 Europe 500, meaning they brought in less than 185 euros in online sales last year.

And when it comes to social networking, fancy doesn’t always resonate with European consumers. For example, luxury brands accounted for only two of the top 10 spots for most Liked e-retailers on Facebook. LMVH and Burberry Ltd., Nos. 3 and 4 in that list of 10 retailers, have average online tickets of 480 and 400 euros, respectively. By contrast, seven of the top 10 have average tickets below the 131 euro average of all 500 merchants ranked in the 2013 Europe 500

While it is common for European retailers to interact with consumers via social media, as a whole, merchants in the region aren’t as active on the major social networks as their U.S. and Canadian competitors.

In North America, for example, all but four retailers ranked in the Top 500 Guide  maintain a Facebook page, whereas 468 of the largest e-retailers (93.6%) in Europe have one. Similarly, nearly all North American retailers (97.2%) are on Twitter compared to 87.0% of European merchants. Those trends are more stark on  YouTube, where 87.6% of the largest North American retailers have a page, compared to 73.2% in  Europe 500, and are particularly pronounced on Pinterest, where 78.0% of North American merchants have an account, compared to 39.4% in Europe.

In turn, the largest online merchants in Europe, on average, have far fewer social media followers. For example, the average North American Top 500 retailer on Facebook has around 1.0 million Likes, nearly double the 556,038 average for European e-retailers on Facebook.

And these fan and follower counts matter in online retail, as the more followers a retailer has, the more people its messages can reach. For instance, when Burberry posted a photo of its Graphic animal print handbag on Facebook last week, the message received more than 20,000 Likes and more than 240 comments within a day.

Having a robust social media presence may also correlate with higher online sales growth. For instance, Inditex, the parent company of apparel brand Zara, is the second-most Liked e-retailer in Europe, and is No. 5 among the region’s retailers in online sales growth. The merchant brought in an estimated 304.0 million euros in 2012, up nearly 160% from 117.0 million euros in 2011.

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