December 20, 2011, 11:21 AM

Shoppers like sharing Facebook data with online retailers

More than half of shoppers let retailers see some of their Facebook data.

Stefany Moore

Associate Director of Research

Lead Photo

Retailers concerned that many consumers may balk when asked to share personal Facebook data may be in for a surprise. All retailers need to do is ask, at least with some shoppers. More than half of consumers grant online retailers permission to use their Facebook data, according to a new study from social commerce applications supplier Sociable Labs. Retailers sometimes ask site visitors to sign into Facebook to participate in social shopping applications or to post reviews of products that are then shared on Facebook. This, in turn, allows retailers to see personal information that can include gender, name, birthdays and other data.

The company studied 1.2 million consumers who were attempting to access one of 42 social applications on e-commerce sites earlier this year. When presented with a Facebook Permissions dialog box, site visitors on average clicked “allow” 56% of the time. Those Permissions range from retailers asking for access to basic profile information like gender and name to more detailed information like a user’s birthday or movie preferences to authorization to post status updates on shoppers’ Facebook walls.

“The assumption often made about the Facebook Permissions request is that it asks for information users are not willing to share, that users are put off due to privacy concerns,” says Sociable Labs account manager Christin Engstrom. “Our study indicates this assumption simply isn’t true.”

The more valuable shoppers deemed an application the more likely they were to authorize access to their Facebook data, the study also found. For example, an app that offered discounts in exchange for access to profile information drew higher opt-in rates, the study found.

Consumers who trust a brand are more likely to authorize access to social network data, the study finds. Consumers who have made previous purchases and have a relationship with an online retailer, for example, are more likely to allow access to Facebook data than they are to a retailer they visit for the first time from a search engine.

However, the more cumbersome the requests for data, the lower the opt-in rates. For example, when asking for permission to allow a social application to post status messages on a user's wall, rather than just the basic permission of access to name, gender and a list of friends, the authorization rate went from 71% to 43%.

Sociable Labs develops on-site social commerce apps for web retailers including RueLaLa.com, No. 82 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, Backcountry.com (a unit of Liberty Interactive Inc., No. 8) and HauteLook (No. 156).

 

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