What is social retail?
Look around. Social media infiltrates everything we do. So, it should come as no surprise that 74% of today’s consumers use social media to guide purchase decisions.
Independent specialty retailers that incorporate social media into their larger marketing strategy can better cater to the needs of their customers, drive engagement, and grow sales.
Check out these four retailer-approved tactics you should add to your marketing strategy to grow engagement and sales:
#1 Use social media platforms to create a two-way dialogue with your target audience by asking for their participation in naming a product, providing feedback on a new brand, entering a contest, etc.
Creating an always-open line of communication via social media enables you to better understand your customers’ needs and build their trust. A recent study found that 60% of consumers engage with a brand via social media before making a purchase, and those that do engage your organization via social media will spend 20-40% more in the long run.
Asking for your followers’ participation is a great way to initiate conversation and make them feel valued. Encourage continued interaction with your posts by reacting and responding to audience comments. You should also actively monitor your accounts so you can respond in a timely fashion to audience activity on your page. 71% of people who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend it to others, so customer service must transcend the walls of your store.
RICS’ client Danform Shoes has done an outstanding job engaging their audience via social media, proving how compelling interactive posts can be. On Danform Shoes’ Facebook page, posts about contests clearly outperform the rest. Their latest contest post reached 5k-7k individuals, resulting in 52 reactions and approximately 200 comments – easily doubling their average post engagement.
#2 Use social media to drive in-store traffic, and vice versa.
According to Facebook, 49% of in-store purchases are influenced by digital interactions. Your digital presence must be a combination of product transparency and store traffic-driving. To do so, consistently share images that reflect your store’s look and feel. Consistency strengthens brand awareness, setting expectations for your customers and building their trust. Also, share photos of new products or brands and promote upcoming events – give social media followers a reason to come into the store.
From your store, use signage to drive social media engagement. Display hashtags, icons, and social media handles in-store and repurpose those same visuals on your website, in marketing content, on customized receipts, etc. Consider offering free wifi and other incentives to encourage shoppers to follow your store on social media while you’re top of mind.
To create product transparency, the team at Danform Shoes shares photos of new products on Facebook, using brand names as hashtags in the captions. When questions arise about product availability in specific colors and sizes, GM Derek Hellyer uses RICS’ Stock Status report to respond accurately and as quickly as possible. To drive traffic, Danform Shoes makes it easy for customers to find them. Each customer touchpoint links to another. For example, the Danform Shoes website features three social media icons (hyperlinked buttons) and a call to action reading “Please follow & like us – We are social!” Both the website and Facebook encourage shoppers to subscribe to their newsletter for an “Instant $10 off $50 coupon.” From the store, signage at Danform Shoes encourages shoppers to follow them on social media for exclusive offers, events, etc. At checkout, they’re asked to sign up for the Danform Deals newsletter.
#3 There are many ways to sell through social media without ecommerce.
When posting on social media, ensure your standard posts outweigh the salesy stuff. Regardless of how you market and sell products on social media, you can create value through the content you share. Any news article/blog/quote your audience would find helpful and interesting is worth consideration. When you do highlight specific products for sale in your posts and stories, make it obvious. Rely on images, using real-life product photos with simple backgrounds. Write brief captions that blend product features and benefits and include hashtags. Tag brands in posts when possible.
RICS client Heyday discovered that their promotional posts on Facebook (not Ads) received lower engagement than the others. So they began to experiment with imagery, captions, and hashtags, focusing more on their people and their brand than selling product. As a result, Heyday’s Facebook engagement has improved significantly. The number of post likes, reactions, and comments has more than doubled from May 2017 to May 2018.
#4 Choose the right technology partner to strengthen your social media management strategy.
Selecting a technology partner with robust integration and reporting capabilities can strengthen your social retail efforts by streamlining inventory management efforts across multiple platforms and providing access to relevant KPIs. Retailers using RICS can easily centralize multiple inventories, without losing the ability to track sales from various sources. They can also transfer customer data seamlessly between systems, so adding new subscribers from social media to your marketable database is a breeze.
For example, RICS client Heyday sells products from one centralized inventory on multiple platforms. Thanks to an ecommerce integration with RICS, the Heyday team can measure and compare sales from various revenue streams. Specific products posted on social media can be compared to in-store and online sales of the same product, so they can deduce how many sales are influenced by social media and whether or not their budget was best allocated.
Integrating ecommerce with RICS has also enabled Heyday to collect more customer data than ever. Since 2015, approximately 9,000 customers have been added to their marketable database. This exportable list will continue to help the team at Heyday learn about their audiences, retarget specific segments, and continue refining their social strategy overall.