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Social Networks and Retailers

Are retailers being left behind? Can they embrace social networks? Will traditional bricks and mortar stores blend their rigid strategies to include the evolving online innovations?

Social Media

Some retailers are not sure if the consumers engaging with them via social media channels are good customers or not. Other retailers believe these consumers may be their best customers. But the lack of certainty (knowing whether cross-channel shoppers are more profitable than single-channel shoppers) inhibits retailers’ from being proactive in their social media activities.

Retailers are still waiting for “best in class” strategies to become “best practice” and “common practice”.

This is a dangerous strategy because if a retailer is still trying to figure out how consumers use the social media channels, they are likely to be left behind.

Remember the saying “there are those who make things happen, there are those who let things happen and there are those who wonder what happened”.

There are many reasons for those retailers who end up wondering what happened, if you don’t understand social media; then you won’t have a lot of faith in the return on investment (ROI) of social channel initiatives. So it’s a case of becoming an expert or seeking out an expert to help make your business a value add in the emerging market of social media.

What do retailers need to do?

Every retailer must innovate to remain relevant in the new networked economy.

All innovation is a mix of variability (trial and error) and selection (the things that work). The trick is to know what to trial, where and when to trial it.

So if you want to join the ranks of best in class social channel retailers, you should seek proof points for the efforts you take to gain greater understanding of social media networks.

Whether your business model touches directly on social media or indirectly impacts it, it’s important to document whatever examples you encounter – especially value measurements.

Right now, the retailers who can prove the most valuable examples of social media have a window of opportunity to create competitive advantages in their market place.

Setting expectations?

There are the three things that a majority of retailers believe they should be able to do through their social channels:

  • Have consumers experience their brands and recommend them to friends.
  • Educate and excite consumers about the experience their products and services create for them; by communicating in with them simple ways (using their language.
  • Help customers locate stores.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill “this strategy is not the end, not even the beginning of the end; but it is the end of the beginning” of your quest to master social media networks in the new networked economy.