The future of retail might seem pretty dismal. Malls are losing major anchor stores and everyone is asking, “where are all the shoppers?” The truth is, it is a tough time for retailers and fashion apparel brands across the world but retail is far from being obsolete. In fact, WWD reported that in 2017 restaurants and retailers were poised to grow anywhere between 4 to 4.5 percent as consumers continue to pour their shopping dollars in the “experience economy.” So how does social shopping fit into all of this?
What is ‘Social Shopping’?
A rising trend that integrates the power of social media into online and offline shopping. It’s currently revolutionizing the business world and shaking things up for retailers and consumers alike. Social shopping has completely transformed the average shopper’s behavior, which in part has changed the way retailers set up and sell their products. For retailers, social shopping is more than just about maintaining a physical brick-and-mortar store, it’s also about maintaining an online presence where consumers from all around the world can look, explore, and shop. Social shopping is where social networking and comparison shopping merge into one and it’s having a massive impact on the way consumers shop and the way retailers sell.
Giving Consumers the Upper Hand
Today’s shoppers are savvy and smart. They know that if they are willing to invest some of their time in researching a product before buying that they are going to get the right product at the right price. Consumers can now instantly consult friends, family, and followers about prospective purchases. Now that consumers can collaborate on purchases it allows for the consumer to have 100% control over their buying and shopping experiences. Now brands are forced to think about what they’re putting out and how their brand is being perceived by the consumer.
How to Be Successful in the Social Shopping Age
Now that consumers hold most, if not all, of the power, can retailers still be successful in the same ways they once were? The answer is yes. Yes, online retailers can and will continue to be successful in this digital age. However, online retailers need to remember that for every product option they offer, there are hundreds of thousands of other smaller retailers platform that offer the same thing. So how can these retailers set themselves apart from the rest in order to see success? First, easy to use website interfaces are key. A messy, hard to use website is the fastest way to get a consumer to leave your website and check someone else out. Bonus points for mobile friendly sites. Second, just because there is no face to face interactions happening doesn’t mean that your customer service shouldn’t be on point. Many online retailers are option for 24/7 instant chat. Why? Because when a consumer has a question, they don’t want to sit and wait for 2-5 business days until an email is answered. The world of shopping is happening so fast and instant chat helps online retailers avoid bouncing consumers. Finally, constantly updating your website and avoiding any broken links or out of stock items will ensure that customers can shop with confidence and continue to come back to your online store.
Social shopping is just one of the exciting ways that the face of retail is changing. Brands should look forward to all the different and new ways to connect and interact with consumers. Online shopping is so close to becoming a full experience in the same way brick-and-mortar retail shaped the offline shopping experience. Don’t be afraid to embrace the new frontier of retailer. Instead, dive in head first and you’ll see firsthand why social shopping is the wave of the future.
About the Author
Carolyn Clarke is a freelance writer and fashion enthusiast based in Los Angeles, CA. In addition to her full time job as a buying consultant for small boutiques, she also writes fashion advice blogs that have been published across a number of digital platforms. In her free time, she takes her dog running along the Malibu coastline.