Lithium Technologies has called on socially savvy Australian retailers to pay extra attention to their online customers this festive season, with Aussies expected to spend $30 billion over the holidays.
The announcement comes just days after Lithium revealed the Klout 50: Retail Edition, a ranking of the top 50 retailers in the United States with the most social influence, of which Amazon topped the list.
Lithium director of marketing (APAC), Imogen Riley, said Australian retailers should sit up and take note of the leading international retailers who topped the list, but acknowledged that some local brands are nipping at their heels.
“Six out of seven customers now start their shopping experiences online, and they are significantly influenced by peer-to-peer reviews. Retailers that topped the Klout 50 (Retail Edition) understand this, and they use social in every part of the customer journey to help with purchasing decisions, from ratings and reviews, to customer service support.
“Traditionally the US has led the world in delivering outstanding online customer experiences, but some of our local retailers are catching-up. Coles, for example, has a particularly high Klout score due to their use of a numerous social platforms, high social engagement levels, and branded content, which drives conversation and influences purchasing decisions, amongst other factors.
“Electronic retailers such as Harvey Norman and Dick Smith are also doing well locally, thanks in part to their owned communities who review products on-site – an extremely powerful and persuasive form of social customer engagement,” Riley added.
In a study conducted by Millward Brown, brands that have online communities drove 12 times as much traffic (than all social channels combined) and twice as many online conversions (to sales) than brands that relied on other social channels such as Facebook – a fact that Katy Keim, global CMO of Lithium Technologies, said should be a wake-up call for all retailers.
“Customers expect instant customer service, personalised offers and perks no matter where they are. Social provides the perfect platform to deliver on these customer expectations. It’s a human touch at scale,” said Keim.
To aid local businesses over the festive season and into the New Year, Lithium Technologies has released the following holiday-ready checklist for social savvy retailers.
Lithium’s Holiday Readiness Checklist
- Digital meet social. Social meet digital.
Infuse your digital storefront with trusted social content. Weaving in social content allows you to create a layer of influence that feels more authentic and less salesy, which may give your customers that extra bit of reinforcement they need in order to get off the couch and actually head into your store.
- Staff up everywhere
Prepare for the inevitable influx of holiday shoppers by staffing up your online customer service and social teams appropriately. If it happens in-store, why should the dynamic be any different for your digital or social properties?
Make sure your team is fully prepared to respond to requests immediately. Providing FAQ documents and other useful tools is absolutely critical as the longer a customer waits to get their question answered, the more likely you are to lose that customer. And while you’re staffing up, don’t feel confined to ‘normal business hours.’ Your customers will be shopping online at all hours of the day.
- Advocates are your allies
If you can’t increase your customer service team, don’t worry. There’s an alternate option that involves your social community. Brands are now engaging actual customers to answer questions about products and services more than ever before. But this doesn’t just happen out of thin air or overnight. With the help of your community manager, you need to engage these advocates early on and reward them appropriately for their contributions.
- Be proactive with analytics
Rather than just learn from analytics after posting content, pay attention to what’s trending in real-time as a way to better anticipate customer needs and avoid a potential crisis. By staying on top of what your community is saying, doing, searching, or questioning, you’ll be in a better position to curate their shopping journey.
- Don’t forget mobile!
A Google Shopper Marketing Council study showed that 84% of smartphone shoppers actively use their smartphone in-store – whether to look up reviews, get detailed product specs, or survey the competition – suggesting just how criticial it is for brands to have fully optimised mobile sites. If your mobile experience is subpar, but your competitors’ blows it out of the water, don’t be surprised if your competitor gains a new customer.