Social shopping gains popularity

Malaysia - Malaysians today are increasingly social shopping and turning to social media platforms to share online purchases and make recommendations on social sites.

According to e-commerce company Rakuten's E-commerce Index, over two-thirds (67%) of Malaysians today would recommend a product via a social media platform.

Malaysia's propensity for social shopping stands out on a global scale, coming in second behind Indonesia, which took the top spot with 78%.

The data shows a majority of Malaysian shoppers being keen to share their online purchases on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The data also indicates consistent global trend where on average almost half of respondents (45%) are actively recommending products on social media sites.

Globally, the research showed that the average online spend across the markets surveyed was US$725 (RM2,263) per person over 2012.

However, UK led the way with an average spend of US$1,700 (RM5,308) while at the other end of the spectrum Indonesians only spent around US$239 (RM746) per person in 2012.

Malaysia's average online spend of RM1,074 (US$344) per person sat at the lower end of the global spectrum but came up higher when compared to neighbouring countries Indonesia and Thailand.

"The findings show that Malaysians are riding on the social shopping wave, which is consistent with trends we're seeing globally," said Masaya Ueno, president and chief executive officer of Rakuten Online Shopping.

He said there is a definite increase in users taking their shopping online in the past two years and expects this to continue rising at a steady pace, especially with the proliferation of linking social networks to e-commerce sites.

Out of the social context, mobile phones are still taking the back seat when it comes to purchases.

The survey showed a majority of Malaysians still choosing their PCs over mobile phones or tablets for their browsing and purchasing needs, with almost 85% of respondents using their computers to make purchases online.

Malaysian shoppers also still prefer to make in-store purchases as compared to mobile or online purchases, with over 35% of respondents choosing to shop in physical stores and over 36% saying their purchase decisions are dependent on the situation.

Austria (46%) and Germany (46%) led the way in preferring to stick with the bricks-and-mortar experience, while consumers in Brazil and Taiwan prefer the shopping experience online over in-store.

Ueno observed whether online, on mobile or in-store, consumers are coming to expect a uniform brand experience across all available channels.

"It's no longer enough for retailers to merely have a website that complements the brick-and-mortar presence, but they must provide shoppers all the information they require through their website or mobile shop-fronts," he added.

The E-commerce Index is an independent global survey, conducted in 12 countries including UK, US, Deutschland, Austria, France, Spain, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Brazil and for the first time in Malaysia.

The online survey questioned over 5,000 respondents in total, with 400 respondents from Malaysia.