At its heart, social shopping is about answering customers’ needs, say retail leaders in OCC’s latest whitepaper on the merging of retail and entertainment

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River Island, The Co-operative and Debenhams executives agree that social shopping can play a major role in building consumer trust, in One Connected Community's (OCC) whitepaper, "Social Shopping: Benefit from the Rapidly Growing Intersection of Retail and Entertainment." OCC speaks to 27 senior retail executives to highlight how social shopping can help to inspire and build trust among consumers – if brands take a break from promotional messaging.

Today’s consumers, more than other generations, pay close attention to social media when shopping. But it’s unlikely they are there to listen to the marketing messages of brands.

As Tim MacIvor, Head of Customer Experience, River Island says:

“It’s all about the role social plays across the shopping journey – and way before it. It’s time to consider things with more love and care, rather than just direct sales in the short term.”

Dubbed ‘social shoppers,’ research shows that modern consumers visit social media networks as part of their everyday shopping behaviour and use the images, videos, reviews and recommendations they find there to inspire purchases.

But it would be a mistake to think that normal marketing messages will be enough to influence the way modern consumers, notably millennials, think about a retailer’s brand or products.

As Michel Koch, CMO, Time Inc., says:

“Retailers must become a place ‘to go’ for fun experiences and relevant conversations. It’s about how people relate to the brand and the overall experience, and then how they propagate the brand through their own social networks - so every customer becomes an ambassador.”

Ultimately, it all comes down to a value exchange. Dean Harris, Communication Planning and Content Manager, The Co-operative, says:

“When we ask for an interaction, we must carefully consider what is in it for the customer? If we place a two-minute video on Facebook, and people only watch it for five seconds, we must ask ourselves did we offer enough value to watch the full thing? For all retailers, it’s time to start thinking about the value exchange... It’s about better understanding what your customers and audience want to hear and to talk about.”

The real power of social shopping is in becoming part of the community, recognising and implementing what is truly wanted by customers.

Retailers typically rush to sell something and that’s a key part of the problem, adds MacIvor.

“Marketers tend to jump to the ‘what can I sell’ mentality, and actually that purchase decision might still be three or four communications away for a customer. So instead, enable a conversation while customers are in the consideration set; and let them buy a product when it’s right for them. Jumping to the sale is not the right approach.”

OCC's newly published whitepaper; "Social Shopping: Benefit from the Rapidly Growing Intersection of Retail and Entertainment,” is available to download in full here:

While modern consumers are dynamic, opinionated, and price-conscious, they pay a lot of attention to social media when it comes to making purchases. So, it makes sense for retailers to position their brand to address the needs of social shoppers and encourage positive conversations via social media.

In the end, such a customer-led strategy could generate a significant impact on your company’s performance.

As Rose Byfleet, Digital Customer Experience Strategy Manager, Debenhams, says:

“If you want to see change, as a business you must start really thinking about how people shop.”

The OCC whitepaper highlights that retailers must connect with customers in the right ways. By delving deeper into the customer journey, the notion of value exchange and how retailers are set-up, the whitepaper provides refreshing insight on creating compelling social shopping experiences.

By embracing and facilitating social experiences where customers are discovering, considering, and buying, retailers can expect to increase wallet share over time.

OCC’s newly published whitepaper includes a range of retailers, providing invaluable lessons to help all brands re-think their social shopping strategy from a customer-led perspective.

Read the full OCC whitepaper here to get unique and timely insights now:

George Kiley at One Connected Community says: "In today’s socially-driven marketplace, retailers must carefully consider the value social channels offer their specific brand. This whitepaper provides original, authentic and fresh insight on delivering customer-driven social shopping experiences."

About OCC

Specialist consultancy, workshops and research on the role of people, processes and technology in customer experience, transformation and outcome driven innovation.

Our partners research and share inspirational stories that highlight how technology and engaging customer experiences make a real difference to the bottom line.

We invite the most influential figures to challenge, transform and define the future of customer experience across industry-leading workshops, whitepapers, podcasts and video documentaries.

Founded on a social enterprise model, since 2013, proceeds support London’s young adults who have learning disabilities.

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