Many retail firms claim smartphones are a curse upon their business. ‘Showroomers’ now scan barcodes and find better prices online, but there’s more to it than that. On the surface it all seems doom and gloom, but it’s not.
After fashion blogs, Facebook and Pinterest are the two biggest influences of female customers, with Instagram close behind. The perfect place for a product release. It’s all a case of being where your audience is.
Social media can humanise a brand. Providing a good customer experience online can drive people to shops – imagine using Twitter to say: “Yes, we’ve just checked and we’ve got two in stock. Want us to put one aside for you?”
Social media captures an audience for future marketing opportunities. When past customers can see a new and exclusive range hitting the shops this weekend, they’re driven to investigate further. The immediacy drives them instore.
Whilst instore, a customer should be presented with recognisable icons for a brand’s social channels, creating easy access. If you ask them to ‘sign up today’ to be rewarded with an extra 10% off, just watch that community and brand loyalty grow.
iBeacons will soon hit the larger stores. These are Bluetooth hotspots that can push the latest offers to smartphone owners and, in the future, could direct them to items and deals that would be of specific interest to them based on data related to their likes within social media channels.
Instead of calling a shop or drafting an email, a growing number of retail customers prefer to make contact with a company via its social media channels. This is a fantastic opportunity to address any issues immediately and to give a future customer a leg up the sales funnel by showing that you care and are willing to provide answers. Social media turns big brands into approachable personalities. People who get the personal approach turn into brand evangelists.
For some brands, coupons and print out vouchers posted to loyal Facebook followers can drive easy and measurable footfall.
Yes, people use smartphones to check online prices but, if you give them free wi-fi in your café, they will come and spend time there. Whilst there, they speculatively shop and have access to WhatsApp to send friends images and ask “Is this me?”, “Is this the one Jenny wanted for her birthday?”, or “Is that the right connector we need on this cable?”. Sometimes, without access, you stand the risk of alienating your customers. Remember: a good in-store experience will be shared.
People are influenced by the buying decisions of their peers and by relationships with brands. Social media gives retailers a powerful string to their bow.