Last year's weak holiday results provide e-tailers with a relatively low hurdle to meet, or exceed, past performance. Doing more than just beating last year' s performance will be hard, especially in a year of restrained shopping, when consumers are looking franticly for "free shipping and handling" offers, sales, and coupons to keep their holiday spending costs down. One strategy marketers are using to support their merchandising efforts is social shopping, because it can have a powerful impact for a relatively low cost. It should be noted that social networks influenced 37 percent of shoppers in 2009, up from 24 percent in 2008, according to e-tailing group research.
As a form of marketing interaction, social shopping continues to evolve. Social shopping has expanded from dedicated social shopping sites like Kaboodle, StyleHive, and ThisNext (where less than 10 percent of U.S. online retailers have a presence) to broader social media sites, like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter (where consumers' various networks connect). Savvy marketers are just following their prospects and customers based on eMarketer's April 2009 assessment of the social networking sites used by U.S. online retailers; roughly three in five U.S. online retailers have a presence on Facebook.
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