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Social commerce set to explode in 2016.

21 March 2016

Is "Social Commerce" the new U.S. Shopping Mall?

The social impact of the U.S. shopping mall

Department stores, specialty stores, holiday sales, dazzling arrays of endless stuff, and much more! The convenience of having a large selection of completely different venues to shop at, all in one location. Is this why people love going to the shopping mall? Or maybe its hanging out with friends, meeting new people or attending community events that keeps them coming back. The truth is, it is all of these that create the "mall experience".

The shopping mall became an important place for community and social interaction and an essential part in lives of many people. Shopping at the mall is a social experience. It’s not only a place to purchase an item, but also somewhere to hang out with friends, spend time with family, meet new people and become involved in the local community. For many, the social aspect of the mall is the driving force for why they shop there. 

U.S. Shopping malls somewhat replaced other gathering spots, such as churches and town squares, as places where people could meet and build community.” Designed to get the shopper out of the harsh weather, the first enclosed mall was built in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN in 1956. By 1960 there were 4500 malls and by 1987, there were 30,000 malls accounting for over 50% of all retail sales in the U.S. The mall was originally conceived of as a community center where people would converge for shopping, cultural activity, and social interaction. We can safely say that the mall has achieved and surpassed those earlier expectations. 

vacancy rates of U.S. shopping malls

U.S. Shopping Malls vs. e-Commerce

From brick and mortar to e-commerce, will Cyber Monday be the new Black Friday? Indoor malls have been in decline ever since consumers discovered online shopping, and many shopping mall are closing as Americas shopping habits evolve. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that e-commerce made up 6.0% of all retail sales in 2014, up from just 2.0% in 2004.Between 2009 and 2014, e-commerce sales increased at an average annual rate of 16%, compared with a 5.0% growth rate in total retail sales. The growth is consistent, growing in all but three quarters of the last 7 years. Although malls have yet to go extinct, online shopping is taking a greater share of shoppers' wallets and time. 

E-commerce as a percent of total retail sales

Technology and social networks changing the way people communicate.

As the technology we hold in our hands continues to become more inviting, and e-commerce continues its rapid takeover of retail sales, the way we socialize is changing. Conversations are being held via status updates, tweets, blog posts, chat, and text messages. In 2005 only 7.0% of all American adults were using social media. Today, that figure has risen to 65%. Of adult Americans that use the internet a staggering 76% use one or more social networking sites, with Facebook and Twitter being the most popular. However, the growth of these major social networks has started to plateau. Many other platforms have seen substanial growth as people discover and use social media in new ways.  Facebook and Google+ are mainly focused on exchanges between friends and family. Other social networks like Tumblr or Twitter are all about quick communication and are rightly termed microblogs. While still others focus on business, community, photo sharing, video sharing, and other user-generated content. Due to a constant presence in the lives of their users, social networks have had a strong social impact. 

percentage of american adults who use social networking sites

"Social Commerce" and the future of social media sites.

Despite the continued growth of social media, retailers are still working on how to best drive sustainable e-commerce purchases via social media. Social commerce still only drives a small fraction of e-commerce sales. However, in 2014 the top 500 retailers earned $3.3 billion from social shopping, a 26% increase over 2013, well ahead of the 16% growth rate for e-commerce. In 2015, we saw major social networks making ther sites more e-commerce friendly. The thought of social networking as a sales tool has progressed from inspired thoughts and foresight to a developing, practical way to drive e-commmerce sales. While long  established  social networks scramble to integrate e-commerce into there sites, new innovative networks, such as, have been developed specifically for social commerce. Simply posting on a social network is not going to directly convert consitent sales. provides businesses with an easy to use interface to engage customers and drive online sales. Businesses are also able to evaluate their marketing tactics in real-time. provides consumers with a social platform to discover, share, and talk about products and services. People trust other people, so using their peers to help sell products is an easy decision. According to analysts, social commerce is set to explode in 2016.

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The forcast and trending of "Social Commerce".

Shopping is characteristically a social activity, however this aspect has vanished in recent years due to the growth in e-commerce and of shopper diversions and commitments. Advances in social commerce is bringing the fun and feeling of community back to shopping, however, rather than in malls people are shopping from their phones. Retail and advertising specialists understand consumers and how they interact with the world trends. They know what consumers are looking for in social commerce and how businesses can succeed in following this growing trend. Smart social media marketers know that the audiences on each network are unique, and want different things from their experience on each platform. Using social media sites that promote social commerce, such as, is a must for any business looking to successfully drive online commerce through social media sites.

Is "Social Commerce" becoming the new  U.S. Shopping Mall?


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