Social media still 'too scary' for retailers: ACRS

Twitter, Facebook, mobile adoption the future of online retail

Retailers are still too scared to invest in social media, according to the Australian Centre of Retail Studies (ACRS).

Speaking at the launch of the Centre’s Global Retail Insights report, research fellow Dr. Sean Sans said social media adoption is viewed as a murky area for retailers.

“Often retailers don’t know why they are in the social media space,” Sans said. “They feel that their competitors have a Facebook page and therefore, they should have a Facebook page.”

Sans said that learning how to calculate a return on investment was difficult for IT managers in the retail space.

“It’s about understanding what your return on investment is and it’s difficult trying to explain to your board what your conversion will be on ‘likes’ or how many Facebook friends you have,” he said.

Pushing the responsibility of managing social media to Gen Y employees was another dangerous trend Sans said was increasing.

“In our survey last year, we asked what the key barriers to implementation [of social media] are,” he said. “It came down to people and the ability to manage this, as well as management support and integration systems.”

Sans said mobile devices will define the future of online retail, with the development of Facebook Places and other location sharing services attached to social media becoming the new coupon for consumers.

“The mobile phone will become the wallet – everything will be in our mobile device,” he said. “… Mobile will increase the use of loyalty programs.”

Other results from the Global Retail Insights report were that some 68 per cent of Australians still prefer to shop domestically and online, despite retailers making this process difficult.

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