The Next Big Social Trend?

Emily MacNair - January 18, 2011

It used to be that starting a social media presence (creating a Facebook pages with customized tabs and a Twitter account for tweeting coupons and new products) was the big thing for online retailers. But as many have already immersed themselves within these channels, the next big trend that we see may be a broader use of social sign-in services. Social sign-ins enables customers to log-in to a website using their social media log-in credentials, such as Facebook, rather than registering with that site separately. 

There are benefits of social sign-ins for the retailer and the consumer. Social sign-ins provide retailers with access to information that they wouldn’t have access to if users were to simply create a new registration on their website. If someone logs-in to an ecommerce site using their Facebook log-in, that retailer would then have access to information about that individual – their likes, preferences, etc. – which they can then leverage for customized offerings. For the retailer, the goal is to have higher average order values, repeat customers, fewer returns, and an overall better user experience.  As you can imagine, it would be very difficult to capture all of the information people have shared on Facebook through a regular website registration process.

From the consumer perspective, it relieves the need to memorize one more log-in and password (as if we don’t have enough already).  But on the other hand, many are already weary about their privacy throughout the internet, and as a result, online retailers must tread lightly to make sure that the consumer does not feel that their privacy is being violated.

While social sign-ins is not brand new, only a handful of ecommerce websites have implemented this capability.  A report from eMarketer states the 18% of online retailers have implemented social sign-ins for their visitors by August 2010.  However, another 18% reported were in the process of implementing one, and 32% planned to implement one in the next 12-24 months.

As the social media landscape is ever-evolving, it will be interesting to see how quickly online retailers adopt social sign-ins.  Also, as more and more people are becoming aware of how their information is shared online (seen with many Facebook privacy concerns), it is still yet to be seen just how open the majority of consumers will be to using these social sign-ins.

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