In the last five years social media has changed the way people interact and relate to the world. Increasing numbers of internet users are spending more time on social media sites than they are on their email accounts. They use their wall and tweets to reach to friends and to find out the latest trends that would interest them. In many ways in a world where communication is rapidly becoming impersonal, social media offers folks a chance to be heard.
It’s not surprising that brands have noticed the importance of social media and have created their space on the platform too. While earlier they only looked at the number of ‘likes’ and fans to judge their popularity, it has become clear that social media is a far more important and powerful channel than they had ever imagined. Social shopping is a key aspect of marketing and whilst this has always been acknowledged by retailers, it is only now getting its due regard.
The Altimeter Group points out that traditional marketing only focused on 4 Ps, product, price, placement and promotions. Now finally businesses have realized that the 5th P, people, is the most important factor in the business. Many small and big companies have attempted to use social media as a platform to interact and engage their target audiences, but few have managed to go from ‘like’ to ‘buy’. In theory it makes perfect sense for consumer to buy the brands and products that they like, but what seems to be lacking is the right opportunity and storefront to make this a reality. It is no wonder that many businesses have chosen to close their facebook shops.
From Like to Buy
A customer’s journey from clicking on ‘like’ to ‘buy’ needs to be engaging. When he or she chooses to ‘like’ a brand it indicates their awareness of the brand and its products. This is great for building brand identity and to cement it in the target audiences’ minds. Brand awareness is important as it means that when the customer thinks of certain kind of product they will think of the brand too.
Consideration is the next step in the social commerce journey. Customers need to interact with the brand and be engaged by them. Call to action such as comments and posts are a clear indication of how well a business engages its target audiences. The social media platform should be used to share interesting, entertaining and relevant content. Contests and exclusive discount coupons may be used to generate interest and encourage social media users to take action.
Shopping on social media sites such as Facebook should be convenient and effortless. Retailers as well as manufacturers need to look beyond the traditional and conventional ways of doing things. They have to pay close attention to what their customers want and deliver accordingly. Fashion brands in particular have been having a difficult time and many such as Wet Seal, Delia’s and Deb Shops are ready to bring down their shutters. On the other hand you have Lolly Wolly Doodle, a brand that offers customized clothing that is stitched to the customer’s order, and has an annual revenue of over $11 million. The business has very little inventory risk and offers simple and easy way of shopping on Facebook.
Fast fashion retailer Zara utilizes operation research to refine its global distributing system. It has developed an inventory management system that brings down transshipments and improves the time and lifecycle of products on display. It’d be great if businesses offered their customers a no fuss Facebook shop that displays their range of products and offers them the opportunity to shop quickly and easily, while enjoying the perks of shopping on facebook.
Customer Service and Experience
Social commerce is all about customer experience. It is vital that a business offers an experience that is satisfying and simple to complete. It needs to listen to its customers and respond promptly. Research indicates that only 5% of global brands are socially devoted, but more than 50% of the customers of these brands receive the service and care that they require. Customers care that brands care about them and social devotion is something that can be achieved only with consistent efforts. Finally, brands need to put to use the vast amounts of data and information that their social commerce and social media efforts bring. Once they analyze this data they can refine their social commerce strategy and align it in a manner that will please the target audiences and elicit more response and sales.