Retailing through Social Media

6 Sep

As a Retail Management major, I think it is important to stay up to date on what is going on in the retailing and fashion world. Women’s Wear Daily is my main channel for current industry news. Today, I was perusing the articles and found one in particular very relevant and insightful. The article “Retailers Go From Being Social to Selling” makes several valid points about retailers’ presence on social media sites and their use of these tools to garner sales. The retailers want to either drive consumers to their physical stores and increase traffic there, or to increase sales through the store’s ecommerce site. Maureen Mullen, director of research and advisory services at NYU’s think tank Luxury Lab, makes the case that it is not enough for retailers to just talk to consumers through these mediums. They need to actively engage and connect with consumers in order to increase consumers’ loyalty and their likelihood of making purchases. There are several things retailers can do to accomplish this.

First, they can use several different mediums like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram (the newest). By using several different channels, they can reach more of their target market and audience since not everyone uses each form of media. Also, sending the same message through every channel is not enough. You have to use each to its full advantage. For example, a celebrity can tweet about an event they are having at your store to get their fans to the event. Or you can use YouTube to have a make up artist demonstrate different looks using a make up brand you sell. Or you can have a competition through Polyvore where users can create a fashion set using clothes that you sell in order to win a prize (like American Eagle recently did). Each medium can increase your brand awareness in some way.

Secondly, retailers should create a “localized” presence in addition to their overarching one. For example, have each local store have its own Facebook page where they can communicate directly with the consumers in their area that are shopping at their specific store. You can show events and promotions that are going on at your store only. This localization creates a sense of intimacy that really engages the consumer and connects them with the retailer. For example, my roommate tweeted her local Chipotle back home about how excited she was that they were featuring brown rice as a new option and the owner tweeted her back about how they were doing a trial run with it and that the response was good so far.

Lastly, if you have only one ecommerce site you are already behind the curve. F-commerce (Facebook commerce) is expected to become the latest trend in retailing. A few retailers are already launching F-commerce pages where you can actually purchase the retailer’s merchandise via Facebook. However, it may end up being less of a main revenue avenue and more of a tool for strengthening brand loyalty.

You’ll have to have a subscription to view the WWD article (for Purdue students, just login with your PU ID).



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