3 social media strategies to fully merge retail channel silos

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According to a 2011 study, 42 percent of online consumers have “followed” a retailer proactively through Facebook, Twitter, or a retailer’s blog, and the average person follows about six retailers. Most importantly for many retailers, the appetite for buying directly through social networks appears strong with one-third of surveyed shoppers stating that they would be likely to make a purchase directly from Facebook or Twitter. Beyond the sale, the power of joining and contributing to the conversations in the social sphere has proved to differentiate and empower some of the most successful retail brands in the world.

As retailers look to leverage the social realm, these stats lead to some interesting questions, such as: How have retailers succeeded using the social channel to tap into consumers where they are communicating and absorbing more personalized data and media than we ever imagined? How are leading retailers working with Facebook, Twitter and other leading and niche social channels to bring more social elements to online shopping? Can social media (empowered by the mobile consumer) finally completely merge the retail shopping channel silos: online, brick and mortar and mobile sales? Considering the amount of time consumers spend using social media, it seems obvious to me that retailers need to get engaged. I believe Lisa Gavales, the CMO of multichannel fashion retailer Express, put it best when she said, “Channels as we have known them in the past are – like the past – history. Social media and mobile technology will soon tear down any silos we have left.”

But how should retailers get started given the social media landscape is evolving so quickly? It can be difficult for retailers to keep up with the rapid pace of change and understand what works and what doesn’t.

To help retailers gain an understanding of how social media impacts our industry, ARTS organized a committee of subject matter experts to assemble a blueprint that describes how social media can be used by retailers. The ARTS Social Retailing Blueprint is an educational resource created for all retailers to help understand the basic components, stands and retail best practices around the game-changing world of social media and is available for free to NRF, ARTS and Shop.org members and for a nominal fee for all others.

What’s covered in the Blueprint? Following a brief discussion of Goals and Strategies the document dives into over 100 pages of background and examples of social tactics: media analytics, targeted advertising, user-generated content, check-ins, crowdsourcing, gamification, f-commerce, social shopping, group buying and most importantly, how retailers can coordinate and align their social media plans across their organizational model.

All of the core tools and tactics are analyzed based on three primary social strategies for retailers:

  1. Retailers must start by listening to what consumers are saying about their brand and products. But listening by itself is not sufficient. Retailers must also understand the data so they are able to separate trends from isolated incidents and subsequently act on the information.
  2. Retailers must actively attract consumers to follow the brand via social networks, and then exert influence over those consumers using a host of levers.
  3. Lastly, retailers should engage directly with their best customers and involve them in merchandising decisions. Customer inclusion will increase loyalty and possibly help a message go viral.

For more information or for instructions to download the full paper, NRF, ARTS and Shop.org members can now visit www.nrf.com/socialblueprint. Additionally, for those that have a chance to read it, we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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