Congratulations on surviving the retail apocalypse of 2017 – an abysmal, record-setting year of storefront closures. As hundreds of iconic brands, like Macy’s and Michael Kors, closed more than 8,000 locations, and major retailers like Toys ‘R Us shut down altogether, the marketing industry received a big wake-up call. Shopping just isn’t what it used to be.

But retail isn't dead. It's transforming. Preliminary estimates actually show an overall increase in sales, and of key significance is the 10 to 12 percent boost in online and non-store sales. Clearly, no longer does the number of physical stores predict a company’s success. Expanding into digital real estate is where we’ll find huge growth. “In fact,” according to Business Insider’s research service, the top 500 retailers earned an estimated $6.5 billion from social shopping in 2017, an increase of 24% from the year before. Welcome to the exciting new frontier of social commerce!

We previously wrote the outside influence that millenials are having on the market. Today though, we took a look at how innovative brands are tackling the landscape, and here is what we learned.

1. Shopper-centricity is an absolute must.

Before strategizing, it’s important to first understand consumer values. Accustomed to instant gratification, modern shoppers place incredibly high value on time savings. This truth is what made fashion subscription start-up Stitch Fix a raging success. The Los Angeles Times reports that Founder Katrina Lake recognized “people didn’t necessarily enjoy going into stores and sorting through hundreds of items of clothing in search for something they liked. And even online shopping was often tedious. ‘As a consumer, you don’t want to choose from a million pairs of jeans, she said. ‘You just want the one pair that’s going to fit you and look great on you.’”

Stitch Fix invited women to fill out an 80-question profile with sizes and preferences and lined up personal shoppers to hand-select corresponding apparel. A rush of customer sign-ups resulted in a two-year waitlist – a great problem for a fledgling company! Stitch Fix fully met the demand, hiring more than 5,000 employees and bringing in nearing $1 billion in revenue. Looking beyond traditional brick-and-mortar solutions paid off.

2. To win loyalty, brands must constantly change.

It seems counter-intuitive to change what isn’t broken, but the reality of the marketplace is that younger generations view sameness as dull and archaic. As Forbes explains, “The standard for brand switching is no longer the failure of a brand to perform but rather its inability to seem like an entirely new and interesting option at every single purchase cycle.” The article overviews five trends that reflect the culture’s appetite for new, over known. At the end of the day, “companies must continue to transform their offerings to treat each and every purchase occasion as a victory and invest in innovation that meets a constant need for change.”

Staying exciting will require more than updating window displays and product labels. Need ideas? Check out our gallery of marketing successes.

3. Consumers crave an omnichannel experience.

We live in a society where one-click-purchasing and same-day delivery are normal expectations, but technology can offer speed and finesse in other aspects of the purchase path, too. Disney, for example, nails omnichannel marketing with a mobile-responsive website that allows guests to plan every detail of the trip. The company’s mobile app then integrates GPS so visitors can easily locate attractions on-site, even viewing estimated wait times. MagicBands (waterproof wristbands) are also linked to the customer’s account, allowing guests to easily unlock their hotel room doors, check-in at theme parks, store photographs, and handle on-site purchases with nary a thought.

Another smooth integration of in-store and digital experiences is at Urban Outfitters. By using beacon technology, the retailer can publish personalized ads that encourage shoppers to snap and share selfies in brand clothing. Other companies like Bank of America allow customers to schedule appointments, pay bills, and shop for loans in various formats. “"We're going after making anything that customers want to do available in any channel that they want," said Head of Digital Michelle Moore.

In other words, give the people what they want – everywhere!

4. Make your customers proud.

Big brands tend to hog social media influencers and pay big bucks for celebrity endorsements, and consumers know it. Shoppers are hungry for authenticity and connection – what AdWeek calls the “enduring concepts” of social marketing. “Fortunately, there are still plenty of stories of startup unicorns floating around to give a small entrepreneur hope. Some stories just warm your heart … and inspire you to go out and conquer the social web,” the article notes.

Among them stands Pura Vida. A $200 initial investment in handmade bracelets from Central America grew into approximately $10 million in revenue for the California-based company because the brand “gave consumers reasons to be proud of their purchase,” AdWeek says. “Loyal customers don’t just buy products, they become part of a movement.”

Does your brand message resonate with people?

5. Social commerce thrives on community.

The data is clear that people respect peer feedback. Thriving brands are the ones inviting customers to become influencers, simply by sharing photos, reviews, and advice on digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

As AdWeek’s recent piece detailing the growth of social commerce puts it: “Quality user-generated content enforces an age-old marketing ‘join the cool kids’ concept. Who doesn’t want to be that cute couple preparing to zipline in the mountains, that tatted-up cliff diver or that bikini-clad blonde strolling the beach in Costa Rica? What mom doesn’t want happy, adorable kids in cute (clean) clothing? We all buy into the fantasy: That’s what marketing is all about.”


For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!

social roi

Get more engagement from your user generated content—and turn social media into real ROI.

social roi

Get more engagement from your user generated content—and turn social media into real ROI.