At the fourth annual Retail Systems Multi-Channel Summit, held this past Tuesday at The IoD Hub in London, leading retailers from across the UK converged to explore the multi-channel revolution which has seen the consumer taking control – with the power to shop when, where and how they want.
A particularly intriguing development is the impact of social media, and the ways in which retailers can use it to their advantage. A social media discussion panel looked at how retailers are faring in by doing so, along with how it can and should be used. Although it was generally agreed that social media is an excellent tool for retailers, it is not yet proven to drastically increase sales.
- YouTube is an interesting platform for retailers to utilise, as one of the main benefits is that it can be used for product demonstrations and ‘how to’ guides. This is particularly useful for DIY retailers such as B&Q – which is up and running with a series of informative and instructional videos – as it can reach out to its customers in a different environment that is less sales-driven.
- Facebook, meanwhile, is witnessing the 35+ age range rising to the fore, which will definitely bring new opportunities for retailers looking to approach their audience. Whereas in the past, Facebook was used by brands to engage with their younger audience, it is now becoming a more universal environment, and brands can use that to their advantage.
- The recently launched Google+ remains somewhat of a question mark, with many critics believing that social media users of Facebook and Twitter (amongst others) have no desire to move to yet another platform. However, it is still a thriving community in its own right, so retailers should certainly consider this platform being dismissing it entirely.
Forrester Research predicts that by 2015, 23% of the market will be using tablet devices; going so far as to say that the tablet will in fact overtake the mobile market, as consumers appear to favour shopping on a table rather than on a smart phone.
Luxury brand clothing store Burberry was highlighted for its success and leadership position, amassing 8.3 million ‘likes’ to date on Facebook with an additional half a million followers on Twitter likewise. In addition, it has notched over four million channel views on YouTube, and is further enticing its customers with the lure of prizes by signing up to its services.
After a slow start out of the blocks, many multi-channel retailers are beginning to achieve success in making their different channels work better as a single blended operation, rather than completely separate outlets. Bringing these elements together is resulting in some interesting innovations by retailers, and these will only continue to develop as technologies and the social media landscape evolves.