Retail should behave like social media

Retail should behave like social media
SHARE
THIS



Given the challenges faced by Australia’s retail industry, and our enthusiasm for social media, it’s understandable that we’re seeing digital agencies present social media as the panacea for retailers’ woes.

The logic makes sense: since we love social media, and our retailers are battling prevailing winds, then the solution is simple: spend more money on social media.  

Australian retailers are playing catch-up to global players in terms of e-tailing, social media spend and in-store technology, but there is a big problem facing retailers worldwide: shoppers are turning away from traditional stores because they’re finding them boring. The problem isn’t poor social media: it’s bad poor store experiences.

Retail can learn big lessons from the success of social media, but not in the way that we’re usually told: instead of doing more social media, retailer stores can be more like social media.

How? There are ‘three C’s’ that users love about social media: Content, Community and Constant Change. Better translating those things that people love about social media into retail stores will help create retail experiences that build brand desire and grow the bottom line.

Content

We check into Twitter, Instagram and Facebook several times a day because we’re addicted to the content. We’ve curated our own never-ending and endlessly fascinating stream of images and words.

To create a great brand experience, retail stores need great content, and it needs to be over and above the products they sell. The good news is that physical stores have more ways to create and deliver content than other channels. Retailers have created content in a very literal sense, like Acne’s acclaimed magazine Acne Paper, available in store. 

Content can be physical and very simple, like samples at Thomas Dux or candy bars in Topshop, or more artistic, such as the “Chanel and the Diamond” film series screened in Chanel boutiques. Events like Toby’s Estate’s public cupping events, or learning how to break up animals at the Hudson Meats butcher chain is the kind of brand-building content that retailers can do better than any channel.

Retailers need to ask themselves: what is the content people will come into our store for, other than the products we’re selling?

Community

Social media, by definition, is social. Too few Australian retailers create social experiences in store, which is ironic considering they are perfectly placed to capitalise on an increasing desire to connect.

Some of our best retailers are the best at creating community in store. Lulu Lemon’s stores turn into free yoga classes, using local instructors, fostering a micro-community while linking with the brand’s higher purpose of helping people to live long, healthy, and fun lives.

Strategically, retailers need to convert their real-world assets into more social spaces to maintain relevance. TAB, Australia’s second largest retailer after Australia Post in numbers of stores, is working at transforming its stores into ‘places for mateship’ as it battles increasingly vocal online competitors.    

A lot of retailers think they’re creating community though loyalty programs and rewards points, but this is really only going half way: they need to make spaces where community can happen.

Constant Change

Talking about Twitter at SXSW this year, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff said deep down users love the constantly updating feeds we can’t ever hope to read: we like that social media moves faster than we do, because that means it’s always new. It’s the pace of social media, and all online media channels, that makes real world retail seem slow by comparison: we now expect stores to be different when we go back a week later, and we’re disappointed when they’re not.

Constantly updating and refreshing is something the global fast fashion retailers like Zara and Topshop are doing  comparatively well in Australia through product and merchandising, and consumers are responding with their feet and dollars. With H&M, River Island and Uniqlo arriving from 2014, Australian fashion retail will need to adapt to new consumer expectations of evergreen retail environments.  

It’s not possible or practical for all retailers to change the store environment as frequently as fast-fashion chains. But there are different ways to keep fresh, and to suggest continual renewal. Retail expert Rachel Shechtman recently launched a new retail concept in New York called Story.

Each month, the store relaunches with a new issue, which so far have included love, colour and New York – complete with a new sponsor and entirely new products. With its constantly changing theme, the much-talked about Story concept truly is behaving like media: creating retail issues in the same way a magazine would.

Retail will live or die on the strength of the store experience, and by bringing in social media’s values of content, community and constant change, Australian retail stores hopefully again become a place we enjoy going and spending our money.   

Benjamin Harrison is Strategy Consultant at Clear.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Diversity Case Study Series: OMD
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Diversity Case Study Series: OMD

One need only look at the Cadbury Favourites chocolate selection to know it has nought to do with industry diversity.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
An Apology To Salmat’s Karen Lewis
  • Media

An Apology To Salmat’s Karen Lewis

Whoops! B&T's stuffed up and this certainly comes with our sincerest apologies for any offence caused.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Adland Execs To Be Locked Up
  • Media

Adland Execs To Be Locked Up

Continuing adland's fascination with prison when it comes to charitable causes comes this latest trip to the slammer.

Australian Directors’ Guild Announces Mentorship Winners
  • Campaigns
  • Media

Australian Directors’ Guild Announces Mentorship Winners

Now in its second year, the Australian Directors’ Guild’s (ADG) Commercial & Content Directing Mentorship program announced its next round of eight mentoree recipients. The winners were announced at a special event held last night at FINCH, Sydney and attended by members of the screen and advertising industries. Acclaimed director, and ADG President, Samantha Lang, […]

Eyeota Deep Dives Into Australian Automotive Purchase Behaviour
  • Media

Eyeota Deep Dives Into Australian Automotive Purchase Behaviour

Eyeota, the global leader in audience data, has today released its latest results on automotive purchase intentions in Australia. The results provide a deep dive into what motivates the buyer and segments those into six different personas.

APN Outdoor Joins The AANA
  • Marketing
  • Media

APN Outdoor Joins The AANA

AANA's annual Christmas dinner and dance got a teensy bit more crowded following this announcement this morning.

QMS Introduces ‘The Lonsdale’ To Melbourne
  • Advertising
  • Media

QMS Introduces ‘The Lonsdale’ To Melbourne

Digital outdoor media company QMS Media has turned on a new premium landmark digital billboard situated in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Delivering a commanding presence at the major intersection of Lonsdale and Russell Streets, ‘The Lonsdale’ offers extended dwell times to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic, impacting more than 2.2 million contacts per month. […]

Portrait of a woman looking through out the blinds. Office worker looking through window blinds
  • Opinion

The Lurking Brand Threats Facing CMOs

Treading on gardening rakes and possible alien abduction notable omissions from this CMO threats piece.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Women In Media Profile: Susannah George
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Susannah George

B&T is delighted to profile Urbanlist supremo Susannah George who, we understand, is not related to George Brandis.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Ikon Lands Avis Budget Group Account
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Ikon Lands Avis Budget Group Account

B&T chooses and recommends Avis and John Karandonis shoes. Hang on, that was the end of Sale Of The Century.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Principals Appoints New Creative Director For Melbourne
  • Marketing

Principals Appoints New Creative Director For Melbourne

Branding design agency Principals has announced the appointment of Pip Ireland as its Melbourne creative director. Ireland, who has been freelancing with the agency for the past six months, has previously held roles at Designworks in New Zealand and Melbourne as well as Moon Communications in Sydney. Principals executive creative director Simon Wright said: “We’ve […]

Pureprofile Unveils Next-Level Audience Segmentation Offering With RDA Research
  • Media
  • Technology

Pureprofile Unveils Next-Level Audience Segmentation Offering With RDA Research

Global media and technology company Pureprofile has partnered with RDA Research to enable further audience segmentation across its audience profiles. RDA Research’s geoTribes is a unique classification system that rivals traditional geodemographic approaches by grouping consumers into fifteen ‘tribes’ based on their life stage and socio-economic status. Clients are then able to better understand consumer […]