By Daniel Hunter

This Christmas shoppers will spend £4.6 billion in the two weeks between the 3rd and 17th December according to IMRG and Capgemini.

For retailers on the cusp of the golden quarter, Rakuten’s today highlights the increasing importance of a multi-channel retail strategy as it reveals the growing role that social media and sharing sites play in the shopping journey.

Rakuten’s has seen a rise in the trend for discovery shopping, whereby shoppers are driven to purchase through social sharing sites such as Pinterest of Fancy, based on recommendations from crowd communities. In search alone, Rakuten’s has seen traffic from social discovery site Pinterest up 200% year on year and traffic from the site reached its peak during December 2012, highlighting the seasonal importance of this site for retailers.

On top of this, search through mobile devices to Rakuten’s has also increased since 2012 and now accounts for around a third of all visits to the site, highlighting the increasing power of this channel for product discovery. Consumer confidence in shopping through the mobile channel is on the rise, with around a quarter (23%) of all retail sales through its 3000 merchants taking place through a mobile device, up 53% year on year.

“Christmas is around 90 days away, but it’s no longer a case of ready your website and shoppers will come, retailers need to think carefully about the channels in which they invest and optimise," Shingo Murakami, Managing Director at Rakuten’s, explained.

"There’s no one size fits all model, but the trends our merchants have seen in the last year highlight the growing role of social discovery and multi-channel offerings in the retail mix.”

As we head into the golden quarter, traditional social media channels are also expected to be invaluable both for product discovery and customer service. At Rakuten’s social media drove around two million pounds of gross merchandise sales (GMS) last year.

Research from Rakuten’s shows that shoppers who engage with the brand on Facebook go on to spend around 24% more on the site. These sales, which are directed through Facebook to Rakuten’s are growing rapidly with year-on-year sales through the platform up 80%.

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