Selling via social set to double in next six months

The number of UK businesses selling via social media sites and apps is predicted to double in the next six months, according to PayPal.

Its latest annual commerce index suggested that British shoppers will be able to shop on the social media channels of a further 600,000 UK businesses, as the popularity of mobile shopping expands to new sites and apps – in addition to the 24 per cent of British businesses already selling via these platforms and 22 per cent which plan to sell via social in future.

During July and August, PayPal commissioned Ipsos to interview a sample of circa 2,000 consumers aged 18 to 74 who owned or used a smartphone, along with between 300 and 500 business influencers or decision-makers who sell or take payments online to consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Japan, USA, Mexico and Brazil.

The findings came as PayPal announced plans for a $4 billion acquisition of e-commerce business Honey. The deal, potentially the biggest in the company’s history, is indicative of the payments provider’s strategy to expand beyond payments into related industries such as online shopping and retail.

Currently, 8.4 million British consumers shop via social media, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat being the most popular channels. A fifth of those already purchasing through social do so weekly, with individual social spending averaging £71 monthly.

But while the research demonstrated positive intent amongst merchants, it also showed the proportion of UK businesses selling through social media (24 per cent) lags significantly behind the global average of 35 per cent.

Of the 11 countries surveyed, the UK was found to have the greatest consumer concerns about security when purchasing on mobile, with key barriers including a fear of having financial information linked to social media accounts.

Nicola Longfield, senior director of small and medium businesses at PayPal UK, said: “Our data reveals a substantial rise in the number of businesses that plan to sell through social media over the coming six months, capturing a consumer’s attention in the very place they go to for inspiration.

“However, the UK falls some way behind the global average for selling via social, something which must be addressed if businesses are to compete and make the most of their selling potential,” she continued, adding: “Security remains key for consumers shopping on social and companies of all sizes must address these fears, offering mobile-friendly payment options like PayPal to help instil trust from shoppers and ensure purchases are made securely.”

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