How are Retailer Preferences Shifting for Social Media Users?

Key Article Takeaways: 

  • In eCommerce, it's important to give consumers the choice of where they can buy a product based on availability.
  • Factors such as browsers enabling auto-fill payment information made multiple retailer shopping more painless
  • When thinking about driving traffic in your next campaign, there are three factors to consider:
    • Where are your consumers going to get the best experience? 
    • Where are you going to get the best data stream back that you can learn from? 
    • Which retailer is going to appreciate the traffic the most? 

Right up until the advent of COVID , the question of where to drive shoppers from social media platforms (except for a primarily DTC brand) was obvious: Amazon. You could certainly push traffic elsewhere but the reality was you were going to hurt your clickthrough rate and the attribution based reporting was either going to be disappointing, be of dubious quality or just not exist.

For multi-channel clients, the main logic in driving somewhere other than Amazon was the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936 (you read that date correctly) which stated that manufacturers needed to treat all of their retail partners “equitably”. Somewhat unbelievably, even in 2019, many consumer packaged goods companies would still ask if they could push traffic from influencer marketing campaigns to all kinds of random places, even to grocers who didn’t have product pages let alone the ability to buy online, wasting money in the process and delivering poor shopper experiences. (Sidebar: somewhat tellingly, NO electronics company ever asked this question. Why? Presumably because their legal departments didn’t find archaic laws written before they were founded as particularly relevant to their actions.)

Then everything changed. It might seem that, like so many things, the catalyst was COVID. That was partially true but it’s really only part of the story so unfortunately for you, you are going to have to keep reading to get the whole story!

Let’s start with Amazon themselves. Amazon came into COVID as what felt like the only story in town. And the beginning of COVID was very good for Amazon. And then the shelves went bare forcing consumers to look elsewhere for toilet paper. At the same time, ecommerce overall was exploding and consumers were experimenting with new behaviors like online grocery shopping.

Suddenly behaviors that previously seemed either risky like having your credit card saved with multiple retailers or just unnecessary (why go through the hassle of setting up an account at when Amazon already has everything I want), seemed trivial compared to figuring out how to get groceries delivered by Instacart (no offense Instacart). Think about your own behaviors: you probably went from feeling like you had one or two primary ecommerce online accounts to having more accounts that you could a-count on two hands. (hehe)

Around the same time (or maybe it was 5 minutes before COVID but no one had really noticed) Mozilla, Chrome and other browsers made it incredibly easy to autofill EVERYTHING on a checkout page in an instant. Creating new accounts became somewhere between painless and unnecessary.

And in fairness, ecommerce sites themselves really got things together. Shipping got cheaper and faster. Rather than orders going into black holes, communications became persistent & practically annoying (“Hey Bill, the Fedex driver is pulling into your driveway now….the package just landed on your front porch!”)

And so while Amazon is doing just great and continuing to grow at a mind-boggling rate given its size, we absolutely see the emergence of a new flexibility in the mind of the online shopper. If we are running a consumer electronics program, I want to give shoppers the option to purchase from Best Buy if the product is available there. If it’s a home product, there are many categories where I find the assortment better at Walmart and I think Target creates a better impression of a premium option. And many big brands “direct to consumer” options have moved from being something between a clearance rack (this was for so long I abandoned it and still can’t get excited to go back) and a nightmare shopping experience to now feeling like an insider experience with no downsides.

So where should you drive traffic in your next campaign? I’d encourage you to think about three factors, in a specific order:

  1. Where are your consumers going to get the best experience? 
  2. Where are you going to get the best data stream back that you can learn from? 
  3. Which retailer is going to appreciate the traffic the most? 

In too many influencer campaigns, these considerations are all an afterthought which is a shame because, to me, this is where some of the most fun occurs!