One thing that retailers and brand today must know is how to operate in the social media environment. Why is that important? You will understand this once you know the impact of social media on retail. Here is how social media is changing retail.
Even though research shows that most consumers prefer to shop in physical stores, foot traffic to brick and mortar stores in the United States continues to drop each day. As the traffic to physical stores decreases, more and more retailers have started to focus their efforts towards mobile experiences and social media engagement, with the latter garnering considerable attention.
So, why is social media attracting so much interest from retailers? Because most of their consumers are there. However, there are some other reasons for the increased popularity of social media among retailers as well and we are going to discuss them here.
Why Social Media is Popular Among Retailers?
Social media is home to over 2.5 billion people and that is reason enough for retailers across the globe to have presence and be active on social networking sites. Of the over two billion using social media today, half check their Facebook account as part of their daily morning routine. This should be enough to remind anyone how significant social media is today.
Today, social media is a central part of your customers’ lives. They put an incredible amount of time and energy into constructing their personas on social media, which is a digitalized version of their ‘ideal’ self and they create this persona through Facebook posts, Tweets, Instagram photos and more. Moreover, they actively respond to any information shared by their ‘friends’. Social media provides people an opportunity to not just interact with other people, but also with businesses that offer what they’re looking for. This makes life convenient for social media users and present businesses with a great opportunity to grow.
The Impact of Social Media on Retail
Today, social media is a primary driver for many shoppers. According to a recent survey by PWC—a multinational professional services network, the shopping habits of most shoppers were influenced by social media.
Today, the views of consumers matter more than ever, as their ability to share views with others is constantly growing. Moreover, the traffic from online referrals is also making it important for retailers to think about how their customers interact and share information online. According to some reports, referrals are the fastest growing revenue source for online retailers and this can be attributed to the following things:
- The ubiquity of mobile devices
- The culture shift in the readiness of people to share opinions online
The most successful online retailers have enabled a seamless purchasing procedure to attract a vibrant online following, which is active on social media and acts as their advocate there. Over the years, how retailers use social media has evolved significantly.
Not too long ago, having a social media presence was enough for a brand to gain a significant advantage. The ability to interact with customers and prospects on these platforms boosted customer service. However, as more and more businesses started to establish presence on the social networking sites, the focus on these platforms shifted from communication with customers to their shared opinions and experiences about brands.
As more and more retailers realize the role social media is playing in the buying decision of consumers, the resources devoted to formulating social media marketing strategies that captivate consumers and facilitate product sales have started to increase. With the advent of new social commerce technologies, the biggest change for retailers with a social media presence will be a shift in focus from branding to lead generation and conversion.
Retailers need to engage followers to develop their brand and then hope that the followers would eventually convert into paying customers. Social media has helped shrink the gap between capturing the attention of consumers and then selling to them. The shorter the path between consumer and product, the more likely a business is to convert sales.
By shortening the above gap, not only can you boost sales, but you can also enjoy other benefits which include opportunity for improved demographic and behavioral data collection and direct feedback, and gaining a better understanding of your customer base and then responding to them accordingly.
Examine Your Customers’ Idealized Selves and Deliver the Social Media Essentials
Through the post they share, the photos they upload, and the pages they like, customers showcase to all viewers elements of their idealized self. Therefore, understanding and examining the information shared by your customers on social media is critical. Customers put significant time and effort into their social media presence and pay considerable attention to what is being shared by their friends.
For these reasons and more, social media has become a driver of demand. As a retail business, you need to understand the communities your customers belong to and then follow these communities closely to identify emerging trends. While they don’t necessarily tell us who our customers are, the conversations that occur on social media do tell us who our customers want to be. So, closely following the conversations of your customers on social media is important for any business that wants to put customers first.
Social media yields important data for businesses today, data that they can use to go beyond ‘simply selling’ and focus on services that fulfill customer aspirations. With social media, all retailers which includes you, have a great opportunity to connect with online communities, and gain real insight into the demographic and psychographic profile of their target customer. This is good branding and good business and successful businesses are well aware of the same.
by Bobby J Davidson
We love our company and we love what we do. Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business! As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.
The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a one call source for organizations in need of Enterprise IT Consulting and Management. We also provide a line of products in the boutique Cloud Server space with a touch of high-end website strategy consulting and design services. We personalizes the IT Service experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including energy services, financial, legal, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, retail and general and/or corporate business.
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