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The Evolution of Social Media in the Retail Industry

Consumers are increasingly making online purchases and participating in e-commerce activities. Online retail sales are projected to reach a record $224.5 billion this year.  In an effort to capture online consumers, many brick and mortar stores have developed digital strategies to accommodate customer demand for making online purchases. Additionally, entrepreneurs have created unique e-commerce websites and online retail stores.

Kevin Tate, CMO of ShipIgniter, is categorizing the evolution of e-commerce as follows: social media > social marketing > social merchandising.  Each evolution of e-commerce is creating a new wave as to how brands are using social media to influence customers.

McKinley Interim Marketing Manager and e-commerce expert, Sheri Phalsaphie explains her thoughts on the evolution of e-commerce: “Brands are now able to utilize social media to generate revenue and demonstrate ROI directly from social marketing programs and practices. Social merchandising capitalizes on the power of peers to recreate the social environment found in a traditional brick and mortar store. Posting online video demonstrations, product pictures, or product reviews and client testimonials allows people to feel comfortable enough to make a purchase online. Remember Pinterest and Instagram are not for everyone. For instance, they may be great for luxury brands with great visual appeal, but maybe not a store like Home Depot, where a Facebook product video demonstration would be more powerful.”

The past month, I discovered Jewelry Nut Auctions, ‘The First Facebook Jewelry Auction Site”.  Every Monday and Thursday at 8 p.m. CST/ 9 p.m. EST the company releases photos of affordable designer inspired jewelry at limited quantities only available for purchase for one hour.  Throughout the week ‘preview’ pictures are posted on the Facebook page to spur customer feedback and opinion of a jewelry piece.  If you are having trouble engaging your customers on Facebook, learn from the ladies of Jewelry Nut Auctions.  It is e-commerce turned social/impulsive online shopping at its finest.

Using Facebook to build an online community around a brand/product is a powerful marketing tool for retailers.  How will you incorporate it in your online marketing strategy for 2013?

by McKinley Marketing Partners