How social media and online is changing the retail game:
The retail industry has become increasingly complex, and more cut-throat than ever. It is no longer about setting up shop with merchandise and waiting for customers to come in; technology has changed the game. Retailers have recognised the need to make their goods available via websites and apps. Consumers are more connected and informed than ever and have far more options than previously. Customer expectations have also increased, and with this comes impatience; we are unforgiving to human error. Given the option, how many consumers would rather shop from the comfort of their homes, than subject themselves to queues and deal with exhausted, uninterested service consultants? Well, I know I would.
For me, going shopping has always been a tedious task, which includes an unintentional cardio session. The cardio comes in trying to find what I’m looking for, only to be told the store is out of my size. Once my frustration subsides and I walk back to my car, these words ring in my head: ‘just not worth it!’ Why would I put myself through that when I am able to browse through an entire catalogue from my retailer of choice? The latest trends and merchandise? They’re right here before I’ve even found a parking at the mall. Goodbye to the social experience, just deliver my purchase within 7 days.
The influence of social media:
Almost every brand has a presence on social media, whether it’s a Facebook page, Twitter profile, or Instagram account. Social media has created a greater sense of engagement between brands and customers; this means that brands have to pay more attention to what their customers want in order to stay relevant. Through the use of social media, brands have taken advantage of the opportunity to build a relationship with their millions of customers.
Online social communities provide customers with an opportunity to speak to the brand; they are able to ask questions, seek advice, and find tips and tricks from other customers and the brand itself. These types of interactions provide authenticity and foster loyalty. If you’re anything like me, you spend a few hours on the particular brand’s social pages to help make a more informed decision before you make a purchase. This saves my sister and boyfriend from a bombardment of texts and pictures asking for opinions. The ‘shop now’ button also just adds to the ease of the experience.
Social media also allows for criticism, from product quality to service levels. This, in turn, puts more pressure on the retailer to provide an easy and pleasurable shopping experience, both offline and online. Online retail stores have the unique opportunity to use information from these platforms to tailor a seamless shopping experience, which many retail stores are unable to do.
It’s a no-brainer, I always choose to click over queue.