How Well Does Social Media Affect the Retail Industry?
Almost every professional in the marketing industry testifies to the huge impact of social media on business activity. The retail industry is one of the biggest sectors to be affected by social media, mainly because it involves direct interaction with the customer. Be it in the form of posts, comments, shares, tweets and chats, social media offers great scope to transform retail operations.
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offer a platform for businesses to engage with customers directly and in their personal space. Moreover, there are sophisticated tools available that allow businesses and customers to connect in real time with each other. Across the retail segment, leading social media marketing Dubai agencies are continuously formulating strategies to engage deeply with retail customers.
Changing customer trends
Retail businesses are the first casualty in any change in customer trends. When customer attitudes and preferences change, they are immediately reflected in their retail decisions. This can affect the margins and revenues of every retail business, be it fashion, household, food or any other retail segment.
With social media, businesses can detect any shifts in customer trends well in time to make alternative strategies or contingency plans. They can engage in conversations with their fans and followers to find out what these customers are thinking, watching and reading nowadays. In this way, they can respond to any customer queries and maintain their relevance when the retail landscape changes.
An efficient feedback channels
Customer feedback is vital to the success of any retail business. Only those retail businesses succeed that bring out new products and designs that resonate with the pulse of the customers. Social media can serve as a positive as well as negative source as fat as feedback is concerned. Many retail businesses rely on social media to collect feedback from customers about their products, marketing campaigns and services. This helps them to address any issues or complaints before they blow up into a major crisis.
On the other hand, the open nature of social media means that any person can post any information about a retail business. This includes false, malicious and misleading information that can damage the reputation of the business online. Often, the retail business is unable to respond in time because of which it loses valuable customers.
Promoting unsold stock
There is a new trend nowadays where businesses are using social media to sell off unsold stock and even promote upcoming products. At the end of any season, retail businesses are left with inventory that they do not wish to carry into the next season. They need to clear up warehouse space for new stock because of which they are interested in selling off the stock quickly and even at low prices. Social media offers the right platform for such activities. It offers instant access in real time to thousands of customers and sales can be concluded online within a matter of seconds.
Controlling marketing expenses
Marketing, advertising and communications make up the largest expense item for retail businesses. They compete with one another on the basis of product and service quality, but what really differentiates one retail organization from the other is its marketing communication. It builds the brand and conveys the brand message to millions of people.
Social media allows retail businesses to use video and image features to share their marketing campaigns, branding strategies and product demonstrations, all without the heavy expenses of traditional marketing methods. There are no printing costs, staff expenses or rental charges on social media and the cost of running Facebook ads is nominal compared to the expenses of a full-fledged traditional marketing campaign.
The most dramatic effects of social media have been witnessed in the retail sector, which has virtually been transformed by social media platforms. With access to a wider audience and unlimited bandwidth at their disposal, retail businesses are able to promote products, launch marketing campaigns, collect customer feedback and detect changes in customer trends.
Over time, these trends are expected to increase and diversify into newer areas. Therefore, retail businesses should invest in building a social media presence so that they can continue to be a relevant player in the online retail environment as well as in the offline environment.