9. Opportunities: 3. Encourage sales by making online reviews available in-store. 898 reviews Sephora’s in-store displays promote using their mobile app to see reviews, and some stores accompany products with printed customer reviews.
Old Spice: http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/old-spice-social-campaign-case-study-video/ eBags: http://www.slideshare.net/colleencar/increasing-social-media-roi-using-gladwells-tipping-point-framework-4539106 Gap: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/groupons-11-million-gap-day-a-business-winner-or-loser/38259 Dell: http://www.bgr.com/2009/12/08/dells-twitter-account-generates-6-5-million-in-revenue-over-2-years/
Although online shopping is common in the United States, in Canada, a recent report indicates that e-commerce websites account for only 5% of retail sales. That’s why retailers are interested in driving in-store traffic through online promotions. The difference is that they’re using multiple social channels to do so: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and new group buying websites such as Groupon. For example, a recent promotion where The Gap offered a $25 for $50 gift certificate deal resulted in sales of $11M.
In Canada, Chapters Indigo makes it follow nearby stores on Facebook so that you can find out about events.
Canadian Tire posts browseable versions of their weekly flyer inside Facebook as well as on their website. People can share deals right from the flyer itself.
Building on the success of group-buying sites such as Groupon and Teambuy, other retailers have started experimenting with collective buying as well. Here, Walmart has a Facebook application that offers a deal once enough people have voted by “liking” the deal. When people “like” a deal, it’s shared with their social network. Rewards can also be tied to actions such as viewing an ad on Youtube and liking the ad there as well.
Chapters Indigo also encourages people to interact with their pages on Facebook in exchange for exclusive promotions.
Many retailers have added reviews to their e-commerce websites, either using built-in functionality or cloud solutions like Bazaarvoice. Sephora, a cosmetics retailer, takes this a step further by making client reviews part of the in-store display and making them available on an iPhone application. Customers can scan any product to find information, ratings, and reviews. See http://ryanspoon.com/blog/2010/01/25/sephora-online-user-reviews-in-live-stores/ for a picture.
Other companies are working on simplifying and expanding the reach of customer reviews. For example, Levi’s integrated their e-commerce website with Facebook so that you can recommend a pair of jeans to your friends by clicking on the “Like” button. Not only that, if you log in using Facebook, you can see which pairs of jeans your friends like.
A teen clothing retailer, Wet Seal, has an iPhone application and a Facebook application that allows fashion-conscious teens to put together complete outfits. People browsing through the outfit gallery can click on any set and reach an e-commerce page with the individual items all ready to be added to the shopping cart.
Retailers are adding more cooperative features to their web and mobile interfaces. For example, Mattel offers social shopping, which allows people in different locations to shop together using the same website. People can invite others through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, e-mail, or instant messaging for a shared browsing session.
Retailers are taking that shared shopping experience in-store as well. For example, in select Diesel stores, shoppers can take pictures of the outfits they’re trying, upload those pictures to Facebook, and get their friends’ feedback. In Canada, Town Shoes ran a promotion for video confessions of shoes, and there was an in-store video booth for people to record videos.
Retailers are also working on making it as easy as possible to shop wherever people are – and on the Internet, that means Facebook, more and more. Companies such as 1-800-Flowers, Heels.com, and even Delta Airlines are experimenting with Facebook storefronts and the ability to transact from the Facebook news feed.
On YouTube, French Connection UK has posted fashion videos with annotations that link to where people can buy the specific items online.
Suppliers are also taking advantage of new channels. For example, Max Factor UK uses Facebook to go directly to customers. Proctor and Gamble partnered with Amazon and Facebook for this storefront.
Retailers also use social media to advertise jobs, reaching a wide number of potential employees and making it easier for people to refer others.
And finally, retailers use social media to connect with customers before and after sales. For example, Best Buy created a Twelpforce – a help force on Twitter – to answer technical questions and provide pre- and post-sales care. Over 2500 Best Buy employees monitor messages to and mentions of Best Buy.
You might have heard some of the previous ideas. You’ve probably also heard many concerns. Rising customer expectations put pressure on companies to innovate or lose market share. It’s not enough to have a website that acts like a brochure; people expect to be able to buy things online. It’s not enough to offer e-commerce; people expect reviews. It’s not enough to offer reviews; people expect you to engage with them and respond to feedback. But both action and inaction in social commerce have their own risks. Companies ignore social media at their own peril. Dissatisfied employees, partners, or customers, like the singer whose guitar was broken by United Airlines, can quickly create a public relations mess. Many companies do not have social media guidelines for their employees and may not regularly listen to what customers are saying about them. Complicating this is the fact that both regulations and platforms are moving targets. For example, in the US, promotions can run afoul of new disclosure rules from the Federal Trade Commission. The Facebook platform changes rapidly, which means companies that use this as a major platform need to be flexible, ready to adapt if either policy or technology requires it. And it’s not just about the technology. Even if organizations build social commerce into their retail strategies, there’s no guarantee that their customers and communities will adopt it. It takes work to encourage adoption and community engagement both inside and outside a company.
Will these platforms be around? It looks like momentum isn’t slowing. Here are their current business models.