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BTS Forecast: Consumers Love Social Media Inspiration, But Still Prefer In-Store Experiences

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E-commerce companies may have to work harder to gain back-to-school shoppers this year.

A recent Crowdtap study revealed that although Pinterest continues to be a top BTS shopping inspiration hub, consumers still prefer physically purchasing items in stores. In addition, the study found that consumers’ purchase decisions vary by category. Depending on specific products, consumers make decisions based on qualities such as promotions or value.

The social engagement and insights platform study polled 300 U.S. adults who said they were in charge of their families’ 2016 BTS shopping. Participants were asked about their shopping habits for three categories: clothing, food/snacks and school supplies.

“Back-to-school shopping is one of the most time-honored traditions for American families–and the process is increasingly starting in the places where U.S. consumers are spending their media time: with social media content that’s created by expert creators and their peers,” said Crowdtap’s vice president of platform and creator partnerships, Claudia Page.

Pinterest remains a top social media source for BTS shoppers: Crowdtap’s study found that 27 percent plan to use the network’s boards for their shopping lists.

BTS purchase decisions also vary between clothing, food/snacks and school supplies. For clothing purchases, over 40 percent of shoppers preferred sales/promotions over other factors. Product quality was greatly preferred by shoppers who buy food/snacks and school supplies. Approximately 40 percent of shoppers looked for product quality when purchasing food/snacks and more than half of shoppers preferred product quality over sales for school supplies.

Despite positive feedback about Pinterest and purchasing decisions, a majority of shoppers surveyed still prefer buying items in-store and not online. Sixty-four percent of shoppers preferred buying apparel in-person and 70 percent of shoppers also said they prefer physically buying school supplies for traditional purposes.

With this in mind, e-commerce retailers may have to tweak their brand strategy for this year’s BTS season. Twitter, for instance, has scaled back on buy buttons, since consumers only use social media platforms for creative and research purposes and not purchasing. Without consumers using this technology development, online companies may have to brainstorm a different approach.

Page also spoke about how social media platforms will still continue to be inspirational sources, despite consumers favoring in-store shopping. “While families still favor the in-store shopping experience for back-to-school, digital is playing a material role in the discovery process,” she said.

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