When customers make a purchase, they take a lot of steps to ensure they make the right choice. They research online, talk to the sales associate, read reviews and speak to friends. A new layer has been added with the ability to see how popular a product is in-store according to what people are saying via social media. The “Connection Economy” is changing our shopping experience and how we interact with our favourite brands.
The Social Salesperson
Nordstrom is testing this in its stores by showcasing some products in its dress, handbag and shoe departments as ‘ Top Pinned Items on Pinterest.’ The store is also leveraging iPad displays to showcase products that are popular on Pinterest. Pinterest was the obvious social media choice to include in-store as it holds Nordstrom’s largest social audience. It is a great platform to inspire and influence purchases. Similarly, in other parts of the world, some retailers are incorporating Facebook Likes into their clothes hangers to reinforce customers’ purchase decisions.
Social Shopping will be a more frequent occurrence in retail shops moving forward. Your decision to choose a particular handbag may be a lot easier if you see how many Pins, Retweets or Likes it has. Some people want what others want; they feel better about their purchase when a whole community supports the product. Or, if they want to be different, it may detract them from buying the item, opting for something less popular and unique. Social media may have a greater affect on your decision than an actual associate. Why listen to the voice of one, when you can listen to voice of hundreds or thousands?
I see the evolution of Social Shopping to Social Product Development where retailers will present product options to customers and only produce those that have the most Pins, Likes or Retweets. It’s a great way for brands to gauge whether a product will be a winner or dud, saving them valuable cost and effort.
Social Product Launch
J-Crew recently launched their entire new Fall line-up on its Pinterest page before the release of its catalogue. It is probably not the first to do something like this but it is great to see that brands are using social to launch exclusive content to their audience. When J-Crew released the ‘Style Guide Sneak Peek’ board, they also included their stylist’s email and phone number so shoppers could pre-order items. It’s a great concept for a retailer to create excitement for new products and also generate pre-sales.
The new retail store of the future is not just a product or project store but a social one. It is a store where you do not have to shop alone if you choose not to. It is a store where the display of Likes, Pins and Tweets will be just as important as price, packaging and signage. And it is a world where brands will engage with you on their social platforms, providing you with exclusive content before you even step foot in their brick-and-mortar space.
How has social media affected your shopping experience?