Roughly 14% of Britons have made a purchase through social media over the last 12 months, according to a survey by Awin, the affiliate network.
The poll of 2,264 people found that fashion (49% of purchases) and beauty (32% of purchases) categories are quickly emerging as the most popular sectors for social media purchases.
However, whilst half of respondents had seen an item on social media they chose to purchase it through other channels.
This demonstrates that social media continues to be predominantly a channel for shoppers to find inspiration.
Among the most popular platforms to purchase from are Instagram (41%), Facebook (33%), Twitter (11%) and others (15%).
“This research supports what we are seeing, that social media is playing an increasingly important role as a retailing channel, and, when executed properly, its contribution to a brand’s success is unquestionable,” said Ian Charlesworth, UK Country Manager at Awin.
“Social media is more and more commonly becoming the first place consumers go to when searching for products, but it doesn’t always necessarily translate into buying, either due to concerns over fraud or shoppers hunting around to find a better deal. I expect to see an increase in the functionality offered to buy products through social media channels incorporating technologies like visual search and universal checkout.”
However, the study also notes that 36% of consumers who previously bought an item on social media said they had not received their item, whilst 26% stated that the received item was different and 21% added that the seller stopped replying to messages.
More than three quarters of surveyed consumers follow retailers on social media, particularly fast food brands, fashion brands and supermarkets, citing the desire to shop on social media as the main reason.
Among the most popular reasons for following a brand were funny content (21%), to see pictures of products (16%) and receiving more information from a brand (13%).
When it comes to social media influencers, 12% admitted to having bought an item after seeing it worn by a celebrity or influencer. However, the majority (52%) of respondents were put off by sponsored influencer posts.