Online Referrals with a Tech Twist

Customers of any brand may now buy products—from groceries to clothing—without ever having to leave their homes, thanks to the internet. Customers have gotten increasingly comfortable with the notion of using social media to meet their social and purchasing needs at the same time, especially since the onset of the epidemic.

As a consequence, many businesses have used new technology and social platforms to expand their reach and increase brand loyalty via word-of-mouth. Companies may use social retail methods to enhance conversions and sales in their shops and online using a variety of internet technologies.

Social retail is a nexus between social media and ecommerce

The concept of leveraging social media to communicate with consumers and sell across physical and digital channels is known as social retail. Social retail tries to replicate the social interactions occurring in physical malls and businesses using technology.

The purpose of social retail is to encourage consumers to share the items and experiences they like with others.

Customers may engage with actual people while shopping on their computer or mobile device thanks to innovative virtual platforms. Online retailers can engage with consumers and make shopping a collaborative experience by using text, chat, and video.

For example, a business may have a consultant that uses a one-on-one video to guide buyers through the specifics of items straight from the real store. Social buying offers for a virtual shopping experience unlike any other, from supplying size information to unearthing the ins and outs of every product.

The impact of social retail on loyalty programs

Social retail enables firms to interact with customers at every step of their journey. Customers may be recognized and personal contact can be carried out in two different environments: social media and loyalty programs.

Customer interactions have become more emotional as a result of social media, and customer journeys now often begin (and conclude) on social media.

Maintaining a good connection with your consumers on social media may result in a more active and engaged community, as well as increased customer loyalty and income. By emphasizing social media in the store setting, you allow buyers to see actual people using your items rather than models in images on the wall.

Emotional loyalty is linked to personalization, authenticity, trustworthiness, unique experiences, and community-driven features, all of which may be strengthened with a loyalty program. Loyalty programs may encourage consumers to develop a habit of utilizing social shopping by employing incentives and perks.

Customers will develop a deep emotional attachment to your brand over time. You may enhance customer loyalty and transform consumers into lifetime fans, advocates, and repeat purchasers by implementing a loyalty program to encourage them to depend on social retail.

6 ways to integrate social media into retail

The explosive expansion of mobile devices is inextricably linked to the advent of social shopping. Customers nowadays, particularly younger generations, want to engage with people and information using mobile applications rather than conventional web browsers, preferring to read news, chat with friends, and purchase on apps.

According to a study, 74% of consumers utilize social media networks to assist them in making shopping choices, with the need for speed and simplicity being the primary motivators. Social retail is increasingly expanding into the physical world of purchasing, as well as the internet realm.

Customers that share and support the brand on social media are more loyal to the brand, therefore social retailing is successful. Individuals purchase from people they trust, thus it works.

1. Instagram — making communication easier

Customers want for a straightforward customer experience, which Instagram Checkout provides. It enables customers to purchase a product without ever having to leave the app.

Instagram Shopping Tags may help companies and consumers communicate more effectively. You may tag goods directly in the photographs and videos you upload using this feature.

The tags provide all of the necessary information about the goods, such as a description, characteristics, price, and a link to the seller's website where you may buy it. The customer experience is completely frictionless with Instagram Checkout: consumers only need to submit their payment and shipping information the first time they use it.

They may then make subsequent purchases with a single click.

A convenient shopping experience at Zara

Zara developed an Instagram account in conjunction with a few fashion influencers to display the greatest Zara products in one location. It not only demonstrates what the company has to offer, but also how to dress it.

It's all about everyday ideas and wishlists for new arrivals. It also allows you to view the garments on actual individuals at the same time.

Customers may now use Instagram's shopping function to add the season's greatest trends to their carts as they browse. Then, by following the account and tagging the goods they wear in their own post, they can show off their latest purchases.

Create social media raffles as a best practice for your loyalty program

Customers who post and tag photographs of products they've bought, for example, may enter a loyalty program raffle or get a free spin on a gamified feature like the Prize Wheel. Within the loyalty program, participants may then get prizes and privileges.

Companies may also reward users with bonus points for posting photos and identifying their brand, which is a much easier option.

2. Watch and shop at the same time with livestream shopping

The goal of livestream shopping is to provide clients an immersive and engaging experience that allows them to ask questions and purchase things while watching the broadcast. According to McKinsey's research, live commerce-initiated purchases might account for 10 to 20% of total eCommerce by 2026.

This sort of social purchasing enables businesses to establish a more personal relationship with clients and pinpoint a more specific target, personalizing and dynamically enhancing each user's experience. Segmentation is a highly valuable strategy for directly targeting clients who have become more difficult to attract via conventional media as a result of the internet.

Lagardere – a creative approach

Lagardère Travel Retail is a Chinese travel retail company that offers a broad variety of items to globetrotters and can be found at airports, train stations, and key transport hubs all over the world. The worldwide pandemic in 2020 had a significant effect on the firm, so they devised an imaginative remedy.

Customers in China are tech-savvy and spend a lot of time on their phones. Lagardère wanted to concentrate on social retail when they developed a loyalty program, so they used live streaming on WeChat.

Users may enjoy social shopping while still collecting loyalty points, thanks to the company's loyalty experience.

Membership-only loyalty programs are the best practices for loyalty programs

Customers must be members of a loyalty program to get access to live streaming. The procedure needs just a few steps from the consumers' perspective, but it enables businesses to gather extra information about them.

This information may then be used to send them more tailored messages.

3. Social retail stores - exploration zones

Social retail shops harness social media interactions and put them into a real retail setting. QR codes, augmented reality, and content uploading to social media are all features that companies could explore as methods to encourage people to participate both online and in person.

Customers may be encouraged to take photographs in stores and submit them to social media with an odd backdrop or something really intriguing, or a location where they can really perform or do anything they want to do, and then the firm can reward them for it.

Burberry – extending the boundaries of possibility

Burberry's first social retail shop opened in China, combining the physical and virtual worlds in a technologically immersive retail experience. The shop is a place of discovery, meant to inspire and delight high-end clients both in person and online.

Customers may acquire special material and tailored experiences and share them with their networks via Burberry's bespoke WeChat Mini Program. Customers may learn more about items and use features like shop tours, specialized client services, in-store appointment reservations, and more via the app.

The deeper a customer's experience with Burberry develops the more they interact with it. Customers may earn prizes using the Burberry social currency function inside the Mini Program, enabling special content and tailored experiences.

Customers are given a fun animal character that grows as they interact with the brand in shops and on social media, with additional characters and clothing to uncover. Exclusive café menu items and Mini Program material are among the rewards.

Implement an online treasure hunt as a best practice for loyalty programs

Create an online treasure hunt for members of your loyalty program. Give clients cues about the item they need to locate and let them to browse the virtual shop as they look for it.

To make the treasure hunt more successful, combine different goals.

4. User -generated content (UGC) — visual and interactive traditional

Because social media has become such a fundamental aspect of contemporary life, it is critical for brand awareness. According to the most recent social media data, 68% of consumers prefer to interact with photographs.

User-generated material may provide the visible social evidence that internet customers seek. Companies may connect consumers using friend recommendations to generate virality and UGC, leveraging the power of word-of-mouth.

Companies may give numerous incentives to consumers who invite their friends and acquaintances, as well as to influencers, to stimulate their actions. Set up an Instagram hashtag contest or provide a reward to members who leave the greatest remark on your Instagram photos to encourage user-generated content.

Customers like being rewarded for their recommendations. These clients are more likely to recommend your business and remain loyal over time.

Levi's is transforming the way people shop online

Levi's has transformed the online purchasing experience by adding Facebook "like" plug-ins. Customers may sort goods by how many likes they have and even discover which of their friends enjoy the same things they do.

Levi's even went so far as to create a "friend store" — a part of their website dedicated to solely showing you what your Facebook friends liked or bought. The beauty of this campaign is that consumers are promoting Levi's themselves.

Customer engagement outside of the buying cycle is a best practice for loyalty programs

A loyalty program might encourage consumers to write product evaluations and suggest friends. This not only increases trust and authenticity, but it also gives marketers more material with which to work.

Encourage loyalty program users to upload photos and videos on social media by rewarding them with additional points. UGC is an excellent approach for increasing word-of-mouth and a non-transactional kind of interaction.

5. A fully immersive shopping experience with augmented reality

Customers regard augmented and virtual reality to be among the most important technology in their everyday lives. AR filters, for example, are available on several social media platforms, including Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and Facebook.

They assist firms in showcasing items and allowing customers to try them out in real time. Using filters on social media provides you a competitive advantage.

They boost audience engagement and encourage social media users to tag you in their posts when you utilize them.

The Home Depot

AR apps with virtual "try-before-you-buy" experiences have been on the increase with virtual "try-before-you-buy" experiences. The Home Depot – Fostering Brand Loyalty AR applications with virtual "try-before-you-buy" experiences have been on the rise with virtual "try-before-you AR has fast evolved from a nice-to-have feature to a necessary tool for merchants. Members of The Home Depot's loyalty club may take use of the company's mobile app's features. Because of its functionality and positive user experience, the app was named No. 1 in a Forrester research.

It assists consumers in finding items by providing excellent in-store visual item mapping, checking inventories, and receiving assistance at checkout. Customers can see how it will appear, feel, and correspond with their expectations using realistic 3D visualizations.

Use badges in loyalty programs as a best practice

Customers that complete preset milestones are rewarded badges, which are simple to perceive successes. They, too, encourage repeat behavior and brand loyalty. When loyalty program members utilize an AR feature a certain number of times, award badges. They may also gain points or other memorable prizes.

6. TikTok - a solution, feature, and tool suite

TikTok allows artists to add a shop tab to their profile, which displays all product catalogs synchronised with the featured store's website. This enables TikTok customers to explore your items without having to leave the app, and it also gives a one-click link to your web shop for purchase.

TikTok shopping capabilities are also available on TikTok live, enabling merchants to include goods from their TikTok Shopping experience into a LIVE session. The platform has a lot of visual and dynamic elements, which makes it simpler for companies to communicate with their customers and build a community around their goods.

Chipotle – up for a challenge?

Chipotle held a series of TikTok competitions. They realized that Generation Z and Millenials make up nearly half of their client base, so they decided to change their marketing to match this group.

People were asked to contribute videos using the hashtag #ChipotleLidFlip in the first challenge. The first video in the challenge shows an employee acrobatically closing a burrito bowl's cover.

The firm devised the hashtag #GuacDance for the second challenge. People were challenged to share footage of themselves dancing to a popular song on the internet.

The advertisements resulted in a 99 percent increase in digital sales over the previous year, according to the business. Digital sales now account for around 18% of the company's total revenue.

Organize a hashtag contest as a best practice for loyalty programs

Create a social media hashtag contest for loyalty program members. The contest winner may be eligible for a VIP tier or a special interest club with exclusive benefits, as well as other valued prizes.

It's time to perform

Social retail is essentially ensuring that a brand's physical presence is seamlessly connected with its social channels, allowing consumers to engage with all of the brand's channels — whether e-commerce, social media, or brick-and-mortar – with ease. Because social media has become such a fundamental part of our life, the move toward live shopping and social retail will only deepen.

Brands who can pivot and adapt quickly to new features and platforms will win in performance marketing and, as a result, help create this new trend. Retailers that allow consumers to explore items on social media may improve customer relationships, increase retention, and reach a larger audience.

Brands can encourage consumers to make social retail a habit with the support of loyalty programs. Companies may collect important consumer data by enrolling customers in loyalty programs and encouraging them to utilize social retail components.

They may utilize this information in the future to further customize brand and marketing communications. As a result, members are made to feel unique, an emotional relationship with the brand is formed, and consumers are encouraged to return to the brand and utilize social retail as a convenient method to purchase.

Thanks to Barbara Kekes-Szabo at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.

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