August 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Great expectations

(Page 2 of 2)

With new applications such as social networks and personalized product recommendations, retailers have a key opportunity to reach buyers with a targeted marketing message, motivate them to visit their e-commerce site and then customize the shopping experience, says Jennifer Golbeck, assistant professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland and staff member of the university’s Human Interaction Laboratory, which researches social networking and mobile Internet trends.

The Internet Retailer survey finds that of the 39.3% of respondents currently using social networking, 32% have a page on, 27% on and 26% on YouTube.

Between 250 and 300 social networks exist worldwide, encompassing 1 billion users, says Golbeck. As social networking and mobile commerce grow and become even more ubiquitous among consumers, retailers will soon be interacting with potentially hundreds of specialized social networks and even building their own.

“The biggest users of social networking are also among the most active web shoppers,” Golbeck says. “Social networking will quickly become even more mainstream with online retailers. Getting a targeted branding and merchandising message in front of an audience of more than 1 billion users is a pretty good motivator.”

Up close and personal

Social networking will drive more shoppers to online retail sites, but once there it’s the increased use of emerging technology such as product personalization that will convert more shoppers into buyers, says de Rubertis.

Among retailers that already have product personalization tools on their web sites, 46% of product suggestions appear on product pages, 16% in the shopping cart, 15% on category pages, and 13% on the home page.

By combining mobile web applications with social networking and product personalization tools, retailers can adopt a hand-in-glove merchandising strategy that delivers more targeted cross-selling and upselling opportunities, de Rubertis says. “Retailers will be deploying very rapidly emerging technologies that get them into the center of the mobile web and social network world. It’s going to be one of their top priorities.”

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