Retail Businesses in the Era of Social Media
Social media has made the world feel like a smaller place than ever before. More people are able to share their thoughts and engage with others than has ever been possible. This is especially true in the e-commerce industry, which has become crowded with retailers all competing for the attention of social media users.
Social Commerce: The Future
Before the era of social media, many online retailers struggled with an incredibly limited scope of potential customers. More often than not most of a retail website’s business came from people who were already familiar with the physical storefront associated with that website. In general, it was very difficult to reach online shoppers because online retailers had to rely on the small amount of traffic that the internet would throw in their direction.
Social media revolutionized the e-commerce industry by providing online retailers with a free means of engaging with potential buyers. It became relatively easy for digital businesses to market to people whose interests aligned with the products and services they were offering. And it is likely that social media will continue to shape the e-commerce industry for years to come.
Social commerce also benefits consumers by forcing companies to improve their customer service operations or face the wrath of angry tweeters across the globe. Before social media customers who were unsatisfied with their purchasing experience could only complain through an email or phone call. These methods are considered less effective than social media complaints because they could not be accessed by the public. But by complaining through social media, unsatisfied customers could rally with the public to hold companies accountable for their actions.
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Social Media and the Supply Chain
Social media has also affected how supply chains operate by giving them more data to make decisions with. For instance, if a popular influencer endorses a business’s products that business can likely expect a spike in demand. They could then use this information to help them decide how much of a certain product they should have in stock – in this case, they would likely hold more of a product to sell. Similarly, if supply chain managers notice that a competing product is rapidly becoming more popular than their own, then they can limit their in-warehouse stock while they focus instead on a new marketing campaign.
Remember though that because social media is constantly changing it is entirely possible to react too quickly to some data or trends. If a manager increases the supply of a product prematurely based on a few tweets or Instagram posts then a shipping warehouse could end up holding onto a surplus of unsold merchandise.
Social media also makes it easier to practice drop shipping. Drop shipping is a supply chain practice wherein an online retailer accepts customer orders but does not keep a supply of in-house stock to fulfill these orders. Instead, under the dropship model, a customer would place an order with an online storefront at retail price. The company would then keep the revenue generated from the markup and pass the online order off to an associated supplier who would then complete the order and ship the purchase.
Social Media at Every Step of Your Purchase
Convenience is the number one most important aspect of the online purchasing process. In fact, 72% of millennial consumers indicate that it is essential for online stores to offer them options that save them time while shopping. The simplest way to do this is to limit the number of clicks and redirects necessary to complete a purchase.
Social media can help online retailers meet this need by offering a seamless end-to-end purchasing process. There are two major arms of this process: shoppable posts with tagged products and the social check-out feature.
Shoppable posts allow people browsing social media to find your product and view it directly in the app. This can inspire potential customers to want to purchase a product immediately. That is where the social check-out feature takes over. The social check-out feature removes all barriers between that moment of desire and the start of the purchasing process. This is done by allowing those people to purchase the product that caught their eye without ever leaving the app they found it in.
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