The retail industry has had to constantly adapt in line with the rise of social technologies. Thanks to inspiration from Amazon, eBay and others, the traditional retailers have had no option but to accept the new technologies, especially social media.

   

Social media can be used as a tool to drive traffic to websites but in retail it is adopted as a means of creating a direct link with the customer. This relationship can then be used to directly influence potential customers and introduce them to new products and campaigns. Retailers are now using this influence to drive in store sales.

For anyone dismissing the power social media has, the following figures may sway them. It wasn’t possible to find the exact figures but the approximate numbers of users of the following sites within the UK are:

Topshop are one company jumping on board the social revolution, with their new ‘Dear Topshop’ campaign which allows shoppers to pin pictures of items from the Topshop website directly onto their personal Pinterest boards.

Many retailers have built in store environments where customers are encouraged to take photos including a hashtag slogan relating to the retailer’s current campaign. These companies usually have a strong social media team to deal with the responses this generates. They can also communicate with customers who may have tagged themselves into their store or reply to anyone who may have commented on certain items or the service they received. It is simple to see the potential in social retailing, but the hard part is to successfully tap into this. With the possibility for success or failure every minute of the day, retailers need to make social media work for them, and avoid the possible pitfalls.

It is now in the hands of the retailers to generate new socially interactive techniques and to anticipate trends enabling them to take full advantage. A new social media trend that has caught our eye is the emergence of the ‘Chelfie’ which is shoppers taking photographs of themselves in changing rooms and posting them on social media channels asking for opinions on possible purchases.

This trend has been adopted by both men and women, and even the celebrity world is asking for shopping advice. Research completed by the Daily Mail showed that the number of ‘Chelfies’ posted on Twitter has doubled over the last three months. With the rise of this trend we tried to think of the best way a company could make the most of this opportunity.

   

A simple and great idea would be to have clear branding within the changing rooms such as the company name or logo, which would act as free social advertisement. The examples below of our Neonist and backlit panel illuminated signs would work perfectly.

All this means that, although it’s hard to predict exactly what will arise in the year ahead, the next idea is already happening somewhere. Retailers need to constantly adapt and not only plan for the future, but to make the most of the current trends as they appear.