How Social Media is Changing Your Shopping Experience

As technology advancements are made, our shopping experience changes with it. Social media is a new layer that has been added onto your purchase journey and retailers have been quickly adapting to its power and influence. When you enter a store you are no longer shopping alone. Your friends now join you with the press of a button on your smartphone and to add to that, you now have the ability to ask a whole spectrum of strangers for their opinion if you so choose.

The ‘Connection Economy’ we now live in allows for real-time feedback and the ability to interact with your favourite brands like never before.

The following are just two examples of how social is changing your shopping experience and interaction with your favourite brands.

Social Media is the New Silent Salesman

When customers make a purchase, they do many things to ensure they make the right choice. They research online, talk to the sales associate, read reviews and talk to friends. A new element that they will now have is seeing how popular a product is in-store according to what people are saying via social media.

Nordstrom is testing this in their stores by showcasing some products in their dress, handbag and shoe departments as ‘ Top Pinned Items on Pinterest.’ The store is also leveraging iPad displays to showcase products that are popular on Pinterest. Pinterest was the obvious social media choice to include in-store as it holds their largest social audience. It is a great platform to inspire and then influence the purchase of products. Similarly, in other parts of the world, some retailers are incorporating Facebook Likes into their cloths hangers to reinforce a customers purchase decision.

‘Social Shopping’ will be a more frequent occurrence in retail shops moving forward. Your decision to choose a particular handbag may be a lot easier if you see how many ‘Pins’, ‘Retweets’ or ‘Likes’ it has. Some people want what others want. They feel better about their purchase when a whole community supports the product. Or, if you want to be different, it may detract you from buying the item and choosing something less popular so that you can be unique. Social media may have a greater effect on your decision than an actual associate. Why listen to the voice of one, when you can listen to voice of hundreds or thousands.

I see the evolution of ‘Social Shopping’ to ‘Social Product Development’ where retailers will present product options to customers and only produce those that have the most Pins, Likes or Retweets. It’s a great way for brands to gauge whether a product will be a winner or dud, saving them valuable cost and effort.

Social Product Launch

J-Crew recently launched their entire new Fall line-up on their Pinterest page before the release of their catalogue. They are probably not the first to do something like this but it is great to see that brands are using social media to launch exclusive content to their audience. When J-Crew released the ‘Style Guide Sneak Peek’ board, they also included their stylist’s email and phone number so shoppers could pre-order items. What a great concept for a retailer to create excitement for their new product and also generate pre-sales. As more brands begin to see the value of social media, you will see more activity like this to engage their audience and give them a reason to engage with them on their social properties.

The new retail store of the future is not just a product or project store but a social one. It is a store where you do not have to shop alone if you choose not to. It is a store where the display of Likes, Pins and Tweets will be just as important as price, packaging and signage. And it is a world where brands will engage with you on their social platforms, providing you with exclusive content before you even step foot in their brick-and-mortar space.

How has social media affected your shopping experience?

The above posting is a post I wrote for The Canadian Marketing Association Blog. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here: Crowd-Sourced Couture: How Social Media Redesigned the Shopping Experience

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