With mobile and social quickly emerging as the new consumer focal points, retailers need to fully understand these channels to develop a cross-channel strategy that maximizes the strengths and potential ROI of both. The previous two Convergent Commerce Series articles, Cross-Channel Plan for Mobile Engagement and The Optimized Mobile User Experience, discussed the need for a cross-channel retail strategy that incorporates online, mobile, brick and mortar and social, and how to successfully implement a mobile channel that holds as the backbone for this new commerce paradigm. Integrating social into the cross-channel commerce strategy does raise some interesting questions: Will consumers utilize Share to Facebook and Twitter from mobile devices? Is there a relationship between frequency of engagement with retailers and the likelihood of following them on a social outlet? Finally, are converted fans then more likely to further interact with the brand by, say, downloading the retailer’s smartphone app?
As Facebook and Twitter gain incredible popularity, social media increasingly is becoming a popular medium for commerce. Last year Twitter announced that it had 175 million registered users while Facebook currently boasts of more than 500 million active users — all of which fundamentally joined because they are interested in what their friends and family have to share. People spend over 700 billion minutes a month on Facebook[i], continually posting status updates, checking-in to a location and sharing information seen or heard; Retail commerce is no exception to this. Since social plug-ins launched in April 2010, an average of 10,000 new web sites integrate with Facebook every day and over 250 million users engage with Facebook monthly through these external web sites. Because currently there are over 200 million users that access Facebook through their mobile phones ― and people who access Facebook through their mobile devices are twice as active as non-mobile users ― retailers should have a Share to Facebook and Twitter functionality on their mobile optimized web sites and rich apps.
By enabling social integration (Share to Facebook, Twitter and Email) in its mobile optimized web site and rich app, a retailer allows customers to share products and services immediately with their entire social network. Consumers who need feedback right away, perhaps looking for that second, third or even tenth opinion on a last minute gift for a friend, are the perfect use cases for social integration into the mobile commerce experience. The ability to share ideas from social to mobile in real-time is imperative for consumers on the go and in the retail store.
From a retailer’s standpoint, social network integration is a great marketing tactic; it is free brand advocacy and gets 130 impressions[ii] on average per consumer per post. Like ratings and reviews, it allows retailers to gain valuable market intelligence to further develop a personalized relationship with the consumer. Retailers should interact with their customers through these channels by monitoring and responding to Twitter and Facebook wall posts, solidifying a personal relationship with the customer. In addition, retailers should use their social network to highlight their commerce channels to their community following. Consumers have no reason to engage in a deeper, more personal relationship with the retailer unless they are enticed with an attached value proposition, so it is up the retailer to create one.
According to a recent IBM Institute survey[iii], consumers look for the following incentives/abilities when following a retailer on a social network:
- Trial new products;
- Receive preferred customer status;
- Influence product development or changes;
- Provide feedback to a retailer on customer service or store experience;
- Learn of news and industry trends;
- Interact with other consumers; and
- Share feedback and reviews with people in their social network.
But once retailers entice the consumers to engage with them socially, how do they then influence them to further interact by, as posed earlier, downloading their app? With the same method the retailer used to obtain Facebook fans also increases app downloads: advertise app-only promotions on social pages and in the retail store, turn the app into the new store loyalty card, share brand news through the app and invite customers to take customer satisfaction surveys.
Now is the time for retailers to integrate their web, in-store, catalog and mobile channels if they want to provide their customers with a seamless, personalized and convenient shopping experience across all channels, anytime and anywhere. Many top retailers already have successfully enabled a cross-channel retail strategy, including Brooks Brothers, Cabela’s, Petco, Wet Seal and Toys “R” Us, and are leading the way by delivering to customers a great buying experience at all touch points across the brand. Those who do it right will build a customer for life.
Dan Lowden is Digby’s Vice President of Marketing, responsible for all aspects of the company’s brand strategy and marketing. He brings 15 years of experience in mobile services and mobile devices through his roles at top technology companies .These include AT&T Wi-Fi Services, where he was Vice President of Marketing; Wayport (acquired by AT&T), where he was Vice President of Marketing and Business Development; and IBM, where he was North American ThinkPad Brand Manager and World-Wide ThinkPad Segment Manager. Lowden holds an MBA in International Business from Rutgers University and a B.S. in Finance from Rider University.
[i] Facebook Press Room, http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
[ii] Facebook Press Room, “Average user has 130 friends,” http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
IBM, “From social media to Social CRM,” ftp://public.dhe.ibm.com/common/ssi/ecm/en/gbe03391usen/GBE03391USEN.PDF