Positioned at the forefront of the digital revolution, Fashion and Apparel Retailing is surely one of the most polarising industries today. Traditional retailers with a strong physical presence are fighting against the dual trends of an accelerating switch to online and a reduction in focus for younger consumers who are more willing to spend money on experiences than on fashion products. Meantime, technology has intensified competition by provided shoppers with transparency on product selection and price across retailers. Meantime, digital brands like Asos, Boohoo and Farfetch enjoy surging growth with outstanding online choice and customer experiences.
Power of Social Media & Content
There are few channels as effective as social media for creating awareness. With 3 billion customers engaged with social media (almost half the world) it’s incredibly powerful.
But social media is also instrumental in the consideration phase of a customer buying journey. In fashion, shoppers have a voracious appetite for content and insights to stimulate ideas, solve their problems and meet their needs. Reading fashion and lifestyle blogs, watching videos and following celebrity endorsers have all become important parts of the shopping journey.
ASOS solicits user generated content and leverages it to create engaging experiences for customers (for example its #AsSeenOnMe). Burberry shares video content for their latest collections and J.Crew creates a rich experience in in their blog with a behind-the-scenes look at how clothing is made, plus consumers “test driving” new products and sharing their thoughts.
Compelling Data For The Impact On Buying Decisions
Consumers who include social media as part of their shopping process are four times likelier to spend more money on purchases. They are also 29% more likely to make a purchase on the same day when using social media for purchasing decisions.
81% of females frequently purchase items seen on social media, whilst 85% of people are influenced by celebrity endorsements when making a buying decision. Fashion retailer Boohoo recently doubled its profits after paying celebrities to promote its products on Instagram.
The Company’s Chief Financial Officer explained that success with mostly millennial customers had been the result of its focus on encouraging celebrities and bloggers to post about the retailer’s clothes on Instagram. “We work with a whole spectrum of influencers, celebrities and wannabe bloggers, and we work with them so they can spread the word about Boohoo. It goes likes wildfire on Instagram,”
Challenges To Integrate Social Content Into Buying Journeys
So if social content plays such a pivotal role in decision making, why don’t brands utilise it effectively in their ecommerce journeys to improve conversion and average order value. Here are three typical obstacles that retailers face...
1. Operating Silos
Old habits die hard when it comes to marketing. A channel rather than customer centric approach often means there are two largely autonomous teams dealing with social media and ecommerce. The teams have separate KPI’s, objectives, budgets etc. As a result, social content is often ignored or poorly leverages within ecommerce journeys.
2. Too Time Consuming/Resource Intensive
If you include blogs, videos, UGC, influencer marketing, promoting new collections and the myriad of other content creation initiatives brands are investing in, there’s a lot going on. Lots of new content, many different sources and stakeholders, rapid changes and more. A traditional, manually curated approach can quickly consume a team of people, and potentially overwhelm them. The economics of this approach are hard to justify.
3. Dynamic Experiences
The pace of change in the fashion industry continues to accelerate, as social media creates a global village with latest trends spiking in record time. How can brands that are leveraging social content in their buying journeys ensure the latest, best and most relevant content appears for shoppers. For sites with hundred of thousands or millions of visitors monthly and thousands, tens of thousands or more products (Amazon has 400 million products), only technology can manage this process.
A Premium in Performance
With the rapid evolution of marketing technology using AI, integrating social content into customer journeys in a resource and cost effective way is now achievable. Brands investing in content to help shoppers make effective decisions can put that content to work more effectively, and grow their sales. The brands who master the integration of social content with commerce can anticipate a premium in their performance.
Knexus is a real time decision making engine using AI & proprietary algorithms to match social content with customer data in real time, integrating highly relevant experiences into shopping journeys to increase sales.