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How some retailers drive one-quarter of traffic from social media: report

The top seven retailers thriving on social media in the United States are Sammydress, Uniqlo, Gear Best, Dot and Bo, J. Crew, Etsy and Fab, according to research conducted by SimilarWeb. But while Facebook may have the largest overall audience, Pinterest drives 90 percent of Uniqlo’s social media traffic while Reddit drives 73 percent for J. Crew.

“Effective social media strategies are critical to growing online sales,” said Ari Rosenstein, senior director of corporate marketing at SimilarWeb. “Executed well, a retailer’s social network communities can spearhead ecommerce growth not only during the holiday season, but year-round.

“In particular, if you want to sell to millennials,  then you have to use social,” he said. “They are less interested in the car, house or mortgage, preferring the unconventional, visual, unique and stylish designs and products.

“This is a sentiment that these social media channels tap into.”

Perfect social media storm
The findings suggest that as the number of social media sites grows at the same time that consumers are spending more time on these sites – most often from their mobile devices – retailers need to be paying close attention which sites are resonating most with their customers.

Retailers also recognize that a strong social media presence is instrumental for driving mobile conversions.

Sammydress is an online wholesale retailer of value-priced, on-trend clothing, home and living items, lifestyle products and gift ideas. The retailer sees 24.5 percent of its U.S. traffic from social media. The vast majority of that comes from Facebook, which generates 96 percent of this traffic, followed by YouTube at two percent.

Japanese causal wear retailer Uniqlo gets 18.7 percent of its U.S. online traffic from social media, with Pinterest driving 90 percent of this traffic, followed by Facebook at 5.79 percent and YouTube at 1.85 percent.

“Many of these sites, such as Etsy or Uniqlo, understand the power of generating a perfect social media storm, which combines visual content with shopping,” said Mr. Rosenstein. “These are two favorite activities which are a turn-on in social media for millennial shoppers.

“Many of these sites attract a like-minded crowd of people interested in diverse, unique and inspiring styles, which they pin, or share,” he said.

“There is also significant cross-over from successful strategies – those who will go to Fab to look for a unique wall mural, may then go to Etsy to buy creative pillows, constantly sharing and pinning.”

Frugal male fashion
Gear Best, which sells a range of cool gadgets, cellphones and tablets, receives 18.3 percent of its traffic from social media, the lion’s share of which comes from Facebook at 80 percent, followed by Reddit at 16 percent and YouTube at 3 percent.

San Francisco-based furniture online retailer Dot and Bo sells handpicked furniture that can be on the pricey side but is still currently the second most visited Web site for buying furniture online in the United States, according SimilarWeb. Pinterest drives 62 percent of its social media traffic, in part because every picture of every item has a “Pin it” button the Web site. Facebook comes in second, driving 37 percent of traffic.

Crew received 10.7 percent of its traffic from social media. In a reflection of the growing popularity of Internet bulletin board Reddit, 73 percent of the retailer’s social media traffic came from the site. On Reddit, categories are categorized by subreddits, with the subreddit frugalmalefashion contributing most of J. Crew’s traffic from the site. Facebook contributed 21 percent of traffic and Pinterest 3 percent.

Etsy, where shoppers can browse a wide a variety of handmade and vintage items, gets 9.5 percent of its U.S. online traffic from social media. The share is evenly balanced between Facebook at 38 percent and Pinterest 37 percent. Reddit accounted for 12.2 percent.

Furniture, home décor, and accessories shop Fab gets 8.1 percent of its traffic from social media. Similar to Dot and Bo, the majority of that traffic comes from Pinterest – 66.2.4 percent – because mousing over each item encourages users to pin it. Facebook sent the site 25 percent of its social traffic and Reddit 3 percent.

The right audience
The findings suggest that retailers look to connect with male fashion shoppers should be taking a close look at Reddit, value and fad-driven retailers might want to consider Facebook while inspirational-driven product categories such as handmade crafts, vintage items and home décor are likely to find an avid audience on Pinterest.

The findings also suggest that Web sites that make it easy to pin, like, or Tweet any item consumers like when they are browsing can benefit from social media driving a significant volume of traffic.

“Each of the companies is embracing a platform that suits its audience,” Mr. Rosenstein said. “Given the millennial appeal of Etsy, Uniqlo or Fab, their visual style is a natural fit with Pinterest.

“The emergence of Reddit – such as with JCrew’s traffic – simply reflects the fact that it is one of the largest growing communities on the Internet and hugely popular, particularly in the US,” he said.

“For a gadget company, such as Gear Best, Facebook provides one of the most convenient ways to target gadget fans, and the company has been successful in accumulating nearly 600,000 Facebook followers.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York