IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 10 Mar 2014

Social Media – Are You Connected?

Social MediaWith the ever changing retail landscape, retailers are constantly having to evolve and transform to keep up with the latest technology trends and customer expectations. The internet and its rapid growth has been a key instigator in all this change, teaching retailers that embracing the internet and emerging social media platforms is crucial when trying to appeal to and attract the educated consumer of today.

Social media has become a strategic marketing tool that offers retailers an additional promotion and advertising opportunity, whilst also emerging as a way to have a competitive edge in an environment that is always seeking new and exciting ways to have something different and better than its competition.

Not only does social media provide retailers with more visibility but also helps them engage with their customers, providing a fully connected experience. Social media can also prove to be a vital tool in collecting customer data and raise brand awareness which can have a direct influence on sales.  Mel Exon chief digital officer at Bartle Bogle Hegarty comments;

“With 1.23 billion monthly active users it’s very difficult to ignore Facebook.”

With so many social media channels now available, access is feasible anytime, anywhere, so making it accessible and visible at every stage of the purchase journey provides a truly connected omnichannel selling and buying experience. The Return On Investment (ROI) regarding  social media sites can be difficult to measure, but there are still clear indicators that you are achieving positive outcomes.  Something as simple as posting a picture on Instagram and seeing comments below asking, “Where can I buy this?” is surely a great influence in the purchasing decision.

Personalisation is a hot topic at the moment.  Retailers want to appeal to  customers based on insight into their likes, behaviours and interests.   Through the use of interaction  via social media it allows consumers to feel they are personally interacting with your brand. This helps to build customer engagement, gives your brand a personality and ultimately helps increase brand awareness and push up sales figures.

Social media can also be a good way to learn about your customers, by making ‘tweets’ interactive with simple questions, asking about favourite colours, material, patterns etc.  This customer data, will help you learn and better target your audience whilst building up trust and gaining brand loyalty.

Social media is constantly changing and evolving with technology. Pinterest has recently announced a more open approach allowing retailers back-end access, enabling integration of consumer Pinterest product pins placed directly on to websites. This then lets retailers highlight the most popular product pins in real time.

‘Social shopping’ is a new term that is set to grow .  Research conducted by eBay predicts that UK retail sales coming from social media are going to grow to £290m by 2014, a rise of 44%. With social media so accessible via smartphones and tablets it’s important to maintain a social media presence across all platforms, especially when 35% of smartphone users use their phones to locate nearby stores and 34% take pictures of products to gain product information. Social media is providing the customer with a fully connected experience, making it easier to offer a personalised and interactive shopping experience.

The true value of social media comes in the form of inspiring purchases.  The Generation Y consumer is now more than ever heavily influence by opinions of others.  Therefore, social sharing of individuals particularly within friend groups can have more impact on purchases rather than communications created by the brand themselves.  Therefore, positive experiences and interaction with a retailers brand goes a long way in influencing and inspiring purchases from a much wider group.

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