Social selling, also referred to as social commerce A BizRate Insights survey revealed that (34%) of adults (18+) said they purchased something via social media. This is up from 29% a year ago. The survey showed an additional 27% of adults surveyed were interested in social commerce.
Shoppers in the range of 18 to 34 years-old are the most likely to shop through social media, with over half that demographic saying they had purchased through a social channel. To break that down even further, 42% of those shoppers were women.
It’s arguable that the “newness” factor of social commerce is responsible for a portion of the interest. But don’t dismiss it as a passing fad. Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat have invested considerable time, money, and effort to ignite direct-to-consumer sales on their respective platforms. Instagram (owned by Facebook), now gives brands and retailers the ability to tag ‘shoppable’ content directly on their Instagram feeds. Customers can buy directly from the retailer without ever leaving the Instagram app. It’s part of the evolution of omni-channel shopping.
Snapchat added a shopping channel called “Shop and Cop.” Pinterest also expanded their partner program to support more shopping experiences. Social media companies are in a race to expand their shopping features to compete with e-commerce juggernaut Amazon, which has emerged as a big-time competitor in digital advertising.
While technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are certainly cool, they don’t appear ready to take off on a large scale, and thus the traction isn’t there. Given the immense popularity and usage of social media, it only made sense for it to become a new sales channel for brands and retailers to capitalize on.
The way we shop has evolved, and as usual, consumer behavior and expectations dictate the direction that businesses take. Modern shoppers expect brands to have apps, and they expect to a seamless shopping experience across multiple devices. Throw social media into that mix and brands now have an essential component of omni-channel shopping that should not be ignored.
Raise your hand if you like paying full retail price. Wait, you don’t? Obviously I can’t see you right now, but I’m willing to take a chance and assume that you do not, in fact, like paying full retail price.
As modern shoppers, we’re conditioned to be on the lookout for discounts. A quick Google search allows us to compare prices to find great deals. If we’re subscribed to marketing materials for a particular brand, we may see a mailer, or an e-mail with a discount code or promotional offer.
And let’s not forget the undisputed champ of great deal days…Black Friday. Black Friday may as well be a national holiday by itself.
Many customers won’t make a purchase unless they have a coupon in hand, or a discount code to enter at checkout.
If you’re a retailer trying to attract new customers, and cater to your loyal customers, you’ve no doubt offered plenty of discounts and promotions over time. It’s a necessary and effective tool to bring in business. You take a small profit hit from the coupon, but ideally pull in enough revenue from additional purchases to cover the cost and then some.
Discount-savvy customers are trained to wait for your coupon before they make a move. Knowing that your customers are waiting for and expecting discounts, your promotions but be strategically-delivered.
One problem you may run into is flooding potential customers with TOO MANY discounts. Sounds strange, right? A customer turned off by getting too many discounts. You may have a customer who only shops periodically, and s massive amounts of e-mails may usher them towards the ‘Unsubscribe’ button.
Another problem is that your effort to reach a large amount of customers may reach the wrong people. I don’t mean people who aren’t interested in purchasing. I mean people who WOULD HAVE purchased WITHOUT a discount.
To avoid this, try to send promotions only to shoppers that you believe need them in order to convert, and select the most relevant promotion for each person.
Try testing different promotions for your high-value customers and your new e-mail subscribers. For example, send a general discount to your new subscribers to encourage immediate action, but send each high-value shopper an email that promotes new items in their favorite category. You may find that many of those loyal customers will be willing to purchase new items without a discount.
Then you can start segmenting further. Create a segment of shoppers who have purchased in the last 90 days and run a promotion to encourage them to make a repeat purchase. Segmented push notifications are a great way to execute this strategy. Combine the high open rate of push notifications vs e-mail, and a strategic set of targeted customers, and you could see considerably more success than your broad approach promoting everything to everyone. This is another key reason mobile commerce should be part of your omni-channel strategy
Let’s begin by defining each:
- Omni-channel e-commerce (meaning, “all” channels) unifies sales and marketing to create a single commerce experience across your brand.
- Multi-channel e-commerce (i.e., “many” channels), while less integrated, allows customers to purchase natively wherever they prefer to browse and shop
Developing a successful business strategy means understanding the differences between the two and picking the one that’s right for your business.
Multi-channel marketing and sales enable customers to not only interact with your products through whatever medium is most natural to them, but to purchase through that medium directly.
The best metaphor for a multi-channel marketing is a wheel with spokes.
At the center of the wheel is your product (i.e., a sale). On the outer rim of the wheel are your customers where each channel offers a separate and independent opportunity to purchase.
In Omni-Channel Retailing, Tommy Walker from Shopify offers what is easily the most expansive summary of the term:
“Omni-channel as a philosophy is about providing consistent, yet unique and contextual brand experiences across multiple customer-aware touch points, including brick and mortar, marketplaces, web, mobile and social.”
“It’s about allowing consumers to purchase wherever they are while communicating in a way that is in tune with why they use a given channel and showing awareness of their individual stage in the customer lifecycle.”
When making the jump from single-channel to multi-channel marketing, there are a few things you need to keep in mind at all times.
Most importantly, you absolutely need to know which channels your target customers typically utilize. For example, it would make no sense for a company whose target demographic consists of baby boomers to become present on Snapchat; similarly, a company targeting teens and young adults likely wouldn’t fare well by focusing on direct mail marketing and radio advertisements to generate a buzz.
Similarly, you need to consider which channels your target customers expect your brand to be present on, as well. When you have identified your channels, you then need to optimize your message each device accordingly.
When it comes to omni-channel marketing, the tenets mentioned above still apply – but there’s more. In addition to knowing where your customers are, knowing what they expect from you, and optimizing your presence on each channel your brand is active on; you also need to focus on using each of these channels to enhance the customer experience, as well.
It’s not just about being present on multiple channels – it’s about the value your presence brings to the customer via each of these channels.