Deborah Lee
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Social Media and Retail: a Match Made in Heaven


It won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone when I say that I believe that any and every type of business can capitalise on all that social media has to offer.

Typically I’ve always thought the great benefit that high street shops have over online retailers is that they can maximise the potential of the buying experience. Through excellent interpersonal skills, superb service and pleasant surroundings, retailers have an enormous advantage over their internet counterparts.

But doesn’t that all come to a grinding halt when retailers come face to face with social media?

How do you demonstrate all those ‘real life’ customer benefits when you’re faced with a myriad of impersonal technology?

Isn’t it all lost? No, my friends.

If you are a High Street retailer, now is your time

Let me explain:

A few weeks ago I wandered into a local boutique. It’s what I would call ‘high end’; the clothes are not cheap but they are very beautiful and of fabulous quality.

The premises are nicely decorated, airy and bright. The displays are well thought-out and attractive, and the assistants are all very pretty and well groomed.

It’s an aspirational store.

Aspiration. It’s so powerful when it comes to the sales process. If I look at something and think “I want to be exactly like that” I will immediately start to work out ways that I can get it. I may need to trim a bit off one budget to add to another but if I want it badly enough, I’ll do it.

And that is precisely what got me thinking “how would you replicate this online?” How do you capture that ‘I-want-a-piece-of-this!’ appeal?

Here’s what I came up with:

Get snapping! If you’re a retailer and you aren’t in the habit of regularly posting photos then you really need to start. Get yourself a smartphone with a decent camera, keep your hand steady (blurry photos are really not great …) and go for it. Show me the shopfloor (not just new arrivals), changing areas (minus customers!) and window displays. Show me what makes you a far preferable alternative to shopping online.

Organise a social media event – Do you have special evenings when you launch new ranges or promotions? Organise a special social media event for all Facebook page fans, Twitter followers, etc. Encourage people to ‘Facebook Live’ it. Offer a prize to the best ‘customer post of the night’.

Video testimonials – If as a retailer you’re doing an excellent job looking after your clients, then there will be plenty who will be willing to go on camera and sing your praises. Ask the more outgoing types if they’d mind leaving a little 20 second message when they make their purchases. The best part about this is they will almost certainly retweet it to all their followers too. Make use of that new smartphone!

Do your customers follow you? Are you asking people if they know that you’re on social networks? Ask them for their usernames so that you can follow them; don’t wait for them to do it first.

It’s all about the blog – Do you have a blog? Start one! I must advise people to do this at least once a day during my strategy sessions. It isn’t just for professional bloggers anymore; if you have a business of any description you have to start blogging. It’s the best way to draw people in and convert them into customers. Don’t be too ‘sales-y’ though … Offer advice and information on trends. Be a fountain of knowledge!

How do I get to you? Make sure you regularly tweet about the most convenient local parking and public transport links. Make it easier for me to make the effort of getting to you.

When it comes to shopping, I can see the benefits of both online and High Street retail stores. Like many, I shop at both because I have the choice. And there’s the crux of it – choice.

If you make the perceived buying experience and resulting benefits of visiting your store so overpoweringly attractive, you’ll have a huge advantage. And if you are an independent retailer, then your unique positioning could be the game-changer you’ve been looking for.

So get social and claim that advantage!

Photo credit saigneurdeguerre via photopin cc

Leave a Comment:

Gary Hyman (Social Media for Entrepreneurs) says

This is a great perspective Deborah – walking into a high end store & thinking how to replicate on social media/online. I believe if you drill down a layer a lot of it may be visual related – retailer may want to focus on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, etc. That, by the way, doesn’t mean the other social media channels should be neglected. Thanks for sharing with us.

Charlotte Curtin says

Great post with excellent tips..high end brands and boutiques have often ignored the online platform because they are ensure how to translate their brand experience onto social media or are scared of diluting their brand but the above tips are a great way to help to communicate a high end brand online

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