Social Shopping Roadblocks: What's Holding U.S. Consumers Back?

Petco is among many brands leaning into social commerce

Social commerce, well accepted by consumers worldwide, still feels a little risky to U.S. consumers.

A new study from Mintel finds that while 47% of the online shoppers it recently surveyed have made at least one purchase through social media, there are still plenty of barriers. The good news is that social media offers are appealing, with 58% saying they are interested in shopping this way. But they continue to have reservations about how safe their data is in such transactions.

“A lot of this has to do with familiarity,” says Katie Hansen, Mintel’s senior retail and ecommerce analyst, in an email to Marketing Daily. She points out that 41% of consumers are more comfortable shopping on a brand’s website than on a social media page. “Consumers are sticking to what they know. This is especially true in times of economic uncertainty and high inflation. It feels riskier to shop in an unknown way.”

Mintel reports that social commerce made up about 5% of U.S. ecommerce sales last year, and should reach 7% by 2025. But U.S. social commerce lags behind other countries. For example, livestreaming accounts for $327 billion in China, or 10% of overall ecommerce sales.

The research is based on responses from 700 people who are already digital enthusiasts: They are online shoppers, use social media and have participated in a livestreamed social media event.

The categories consumers are most comfortable buying are clothing, footwear and accessories.

Thanks mainly to Facebook Marketplace, 75% of respondents have shopped on Facebook, 50% on Instagram, 29% on YouTube, and 18% on TikTok.

The research underscores the importance of video to social commerce, with 31% saying they often watch brand videos, and 22% paying attention to livestreaming from brands. And 46% have purchased a livestream event.

Just 17% say they are more comfortable with a brand’s social media page than its website, and 40% cite a lack of trust in the security of payment information.

In addition to data security, people worry about how to correct an order gone wrong. “The more brands can show how shopping on social media isn’t so different from shopping on a website, the more success they’ll likely have,” says Hansen.

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