Updated Jun 3, 2018

Go deeper: How social media is changing how we shop

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

As people spend more time online and get more comfortable with purchasing products there, social media and major tech platforms are increasingly a conduit for online sales.

Why it matters: Now more than ever, ad dollars for e-commerce are spent on platforms like Google, Facebook and Amazon as they perfect the link between what consumers want and their ability to serve up other items the consumers might like.

Mary Meeker, a former Wall Street analyst who's now a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, gave an update on the state of e-commerce in her closely watched annual Internet Trends report, which she presented at Recode's Code Conference on Wednesday.

Social media in particular is is boosting new product discovery: 55% of consumers report buying products online after stumbling across them on social media, according to a Curalate Consumer Survey.

  • 78% of 18-34 year-olds report discovering products on Facebook
  • 59% on Instagram and Pinterest
  • 34% on Twitter
  • 22% on Snap

Referrals: In addition, 6% of all e-commerce referrals now come via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. That's up from just 2% in 2015, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

New brands: These referrals have proven to be effective for lesser-known, direct-to-consumer brands like skin-care company Glossier, eyewear company Warby Parker and mattress seller Casper.

Mobile habits: The amount of time people spend in shopping apps on their mobile devices is the fastest-growing category of app sessions, according to Flurry Analytics, followed by time spent in music, media and entertainment apps. "Shopping is increasingly entertainment," Meeker said.

  • Video has become a popular resource for shoppers to find out more about products or discover new ones, both through video services like YouTube and as a medium on shopping marketplace like Taobao (China).
  • Some shopping apps are "gamifying" the process, with flash sales and referrals that earn customers discounts.

The advertising game: Engagement on e-commerce ads on Facebook is on the rise. Click-through rates (the number of people clicking on an ad they see) for e-commerce ads on the social network rose to 3% in the first quarter 2018, up from 1% the same quarter in 2016.

  • 3% may not seem like a lot, but it's actually a large jump in terms of number of people who actually clicking on a particular type of ads.

How shoppers find products:

Google: 36% of shoppers begin looking for a product on a search engine. Google Shopping shows product listing ads and purchasing choices. And Google is starting to integrate shopping actions with its Home smart speaker. (Think: "OK, Google, buy sunscreen.")

  • The company says the top product listing in the mobile listing ad sees three times more engagement than others listings

Amazon: 49% of shoppers begin their search right on Amazon.com, which makes it easy for Prime members to find specific products and check out with one click. It's now integrating sponsored products in its search listings. Amazon, with more than 100 million Prime subscribers, is also adding advertising into the mix.

  • "Google, in effect, is evolving from an ad platform to a commerce platform," while Amazon is doing the reverse, Meeker said at Code.

The power of personalization: Online retailers are focusing on making sure consumers see recommendations tailored to their interests and tastes — all based on the detailed data they have on users.

  • Subscription services like Amazon Prime and personalized clothing service Stitch Fix get to know a consumers' favorite brands, style, size and buying patterns through the information consumers directly provide them.
  • Ad-based platforms like Facebook and Google glean preferences via users' online behavior — what they click, how long they stay on certain sites, and what they're searching for.

Meanwhile, long-term sales growth in U.S. physical stores is decelerating, but that's not necessarily a concern—at least for Amazon.

  • Like for Alibaba in China, physical stores are only part of Amazon's commerce strategy, which combines online retail, payments, digital entertainment, cloud services, and other channels like connected devices.
  • Alibaba's leadership in this approach, which CEO Jack Ma has dubbed "New Retail," is surely helped by Chinese consumers' more favorable views towards sharing their data in exchange for better services.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 9 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health