Retailers are adopting social media and digital marketing as the new standards in effective customer outreach and sales generation. Familiarity with the customer base and predicting consumer trends are central to success in retail, and using social media offers companies the ability to study consumer data while inviting customers to interact in a community setting.
1. Going From Print to Digital Marketing
Having a social media presence is essential to the development and success of a brand. For retailers, a carefully curated and well designed website is the first step in drawing attention to a company. This means taking into consideration the company’s audience, determining the website aesthetics, and adapting the interface in accordance with the brand’s image. Photos and video are particularly important media forms in marketing for clothing retailers, and taking advertising from print to digital has proven a popular way to keep up with shifts in the marketplace.
Pinterest, Polyvore, and Instagram are essential platforms in this new retail marketing movement, and using online social networks offers companies the opportunity to learn from buyers while following consumer trends. In taking advertising digital, Polyvore and Pinterest have been integral tools for companies, signally clothing and cosmetics retailers. For consumers, these networks serve as a personalized digital magazine, a collage of images and text that can be shared instantly among followers. Moreover, luxury retailers have developed their own online magazines complete with interviews, photo spreads, and customized product placement. Instead of taking out advertisement pages, companies can introduce their own e-publications with built-in ads.
For clothing retailers, video lookbooks or short films centered on a collection complement the customer’s desire for an interactive experience. Traditionally, lookbooks were reserved for boutiques and editors, but now customers have direct access to lookbooks online and can even view fashion show streams, giving the buyer an inside look into the ever-exclusive world of luxury design. Companies are using video and digital lookbooks to promote new arrivals, seasonal looks, and promote brand appeal by posting online.
2. Enhancing Customer Service
Leading retailers including Nordstrom and Sephora have taken social media marketing a step further and have adopted their own platforms on their respective websites. Customers can interact with one another via product q-and-a forums and can write reviews of products sold on the website. These options grant customers a more comprehensive, one-stop experience in addition to all the usual conveniences of online shopping. Customers can also hold live chats with representatives, providing customer service online in the same way a salesperson would do in a store setting.
This digital interaction provides a mutually beneficial relationship for the retailer and the customer. Larger department store websites give customers the ability to create and name their own individual boutiques, which are then made accessible to other users. These new developments in the course of e-commerce have altered the retail landscape by creating a customizable digital shopping experience for buyers. The ability to interact directly with the product is valuable to the consumer, but with so much information available online, e-retail is becoming an increasingly attractive alternative to in-store shopping.
3. Marrying the Old and the New
Companies are using social media to not only promote a brand itself, but as a platform to promote company-sponsored events. Pop up shops, in which stores present a limited version of their product to attract buyers and offer a sample of a brand’s offerings, are proving successful to sales numbers. The pop-up craze offers a convergence of new digital and more traditional retail marketing approaches. Social media outlets are often used to promote pop-up events, acting as an online venue for event photos and video footage, and attendees can communicate and give feedback on products.
The effects of this intersection of old and new include a wider customer base and active consumer participation in the building of a brand. The duration of a pop-up installations vary, and most retailers host events complete with DJ’s, food, and door prizes, lending a festive feel to these occasions. Pop-up shops are used to enhance the exclusivity of a brand and promote a certain cache, but mass retailers including Target and Uniqlo are quickly catching onto the trend. Similar to pop-ups, a trunk show affords new designers and emerging labels a position in the spotlight to showcase new designs and self-promote, an essential entrepreneurial skill in today’s marketplace.
These changes in the retail sphere are exciting, and options have never been greater for customers. To compete with the growing number of web-savvy designers and retailers, companies need a supercool edge. Superior customer service remains crucial to a retailer’s success, and an interactive, web-based experience is now a necessary component in ensuring a brand’s prosperity. Developing clever creative strategies specific to target markets will keep retailers thriving.