The Meaning of ‘Like’

By : |November 28, 2012 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Review sites, social networking and mobile devices are valuable tools for savvy consumers today. For retailers, these tools are creating a mountain of valuable data, which, if analyzed properly in real time, can significantly transform the retail experience-especially at point of sale. Here’s how the “meaning of like” is transforming retail today.

The State of Social Commerce
Research states that 64% of smartphone users shop online using their devices, while over 167 million people will shop online this year and spend an average of $1800 per person. Online shoppers consider social sites as valuable and credible resources for researching products and services, with 40% of Twitter users saying that they search for products through Twitter, while 60% of Facebook users said they would discuss a product or service if they were offered a discount or deal of some kind. Around a third of smartphone users have shared their location with a retail company using a check-in service. Of the 6 billion mobile phone users across the world, 62% hope to use location-based services one day.

For example, Walmart’s Facebook page has nearly 20 million Likes and over 1 million people are actively talking about them. Walmart’s efforts around the world, product advertising, and various forms of marketing make their way to Facebook. On Twitter, close to 7854 accounts are created every day. On a day with high traffic, there are around 175 million tweets.

Another staggering example is Starbucks which has over 2,800,000 followers, just for their Starbucks Coffee account. Google+ is another social media tool that is seeing phenomenal activity, having over 150 million active users, and new updates or features being launched every day. For example, Samsung USA has 779,958 +1’s on Google+, their approach being to provide updates about their newest products, occasionally using celebrities to promote them.

Sites, Smartphones, and Socializing
The statistics below are an interesting representative of how much social and community tools impact buyers:

Customer Reviews – 59%
Question & Answer – 42%
Internet Forums – 26%
User-generated Videos – 15%
Facebook Fan Page – 13%
Facebook Newsfeed – 13%
Mobile – 9%
Twitter – 9%

Links to user-generated content (e.g. review sites, Facebook, Twitter) make up a quarter of the search results for the top 20 brands in the world. In the year 2014, it’s predicted that the Internet will influence 53% of all retail sales, both online and offline.
Analyzing the trends on how shoppers are using their smartphone, the following results came up:

33% of shoppers looked for sales and specials
33% checked store info
32% looked at product reviews and ratings
31% compared prices on Amazon
31% checked out an online store for a certain product
29% looked around at other online retailers other than Amazon
27% used a site that focuses on providing competitive prices
26% made sure the store had a product in their inventory
24% scouted the prices for certain products on a retailer’s mobile site

85% of people anticipate a change in their shopping behavior in response to the growing number of user-generated content.

How Retailers Are Already Changing

Changing the Retail Experience in Real-Time
Using mobile point of sale (POS) transactions, businesses, such as Apple, are working to eliminate long lines and reduce lost sales from long waits. More businesses are able to set up their stores faster and advertise exclusive deals and offers using tools such as Facebook Places and Foursquare. Retailers also are able to use the information obtained from social media and smartphone data to supply consumers with targeted offers when it’s relevant to where they’re shopping. Aside from being a delivery mechanism for special offers, smartphones provide the location of a user and what they might be doing at a specific moment in time.

Data Creation and Utilization
Retailers use POS system data to analyze sales records, inventory, and consumer data. Knowledge obtained via loyalty data and individual transactions is used to (a) better understand consumer spending patterns and, (b) improve sales campaign targeting. Utilizing data obtained from social media is being actively implemented to analyze customer behavior and address their potential needs.

Research indicates that online and web-based American retail sales will become over half of all sales by 2013. The average retailer in the United States has almost 700 terabytes of stored data. Utilizing big data could increase retailers’ operating margins by 60%. It’s also anticipated that there will be a 30% annual growth in the quantity of connected nodes. The further adoption and development of big data levers have boosted many retail companies’ capacity to increase productivity by at least 0.5% every year until 2020. The effects on operating margins in various levers are indicated as Marketing (10% – 30%), Merchandising (10% – 40%), and Supply Chain (5% – 35%).

Conclusion
The decision for consumers to make a purchase is contingent on a number of factors in the modern age. These include comments made on review sites, through real-time updates via mobile devices, and numerous posts on social networks. By mining this mountain of data, retailers have the potential to further improve their point of sale experience.

The author is chief marketing officer at Symphony Teleca Corporation.

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