Social media is now not only a ‘nice to have’ for retailers, it’s an important sales channel that can be utilised to grow their business.

A recent study by DigitasLBi’s showed that social media is influencing an increasing number of purchases both on and offline. Nowadays, retailers are expected to be on at least one of the various platforms. It is often a first port of call for consumers looking to keep up with the latest products, competitions and offers from their favourite retailer, as well leave feedback/reviews and even find basic information such as phone number and address.

Many of our customers have really embraced social media for their business. Neal’s Yard Remedies, a large organic health and beauty retailer, uses beautiful photography on Instagram and engaging posts about the company’s ethos on Facebook amongst other social media channels. Another customer, Travelling Man, has four comic book stores across the North West, and engages with its avid fans on Twitter and Instagram through teasing upcoming events and product releases. It has built up a community and gained a huge amount of followers in the process.

An added benefit for those who run both a bricks and mortar store and an ecommerce website is being able to link directly to product pages to drive sales on their social media.
What’s more, it’s a relatively low cost channel to commit to for independent retailers – generally the only costs involved are graphic design for images (if it can’t be done in-house) and any advertising campaigns you run. For these, the retailer decides the budget and target for the campaign for example, website clicks, new followers etc, and they can be changed as you go.

Many retailers have even launched the ability to buy straight from social media, going one step further to reduce the amount of clicks in the buying process. The same DigitasLBi study found social shopping is rapidly gaining traction, with 28% of social network users around the world claiming to have purchased an item directly via a social media platform.

So what are the issues with social media for independent retailers? It largely comes down to time and know-how. Social media is all about regular content. Great content sells, whether it’s offers and promotions, eye catching images, ‘behind the scenes’ posts or competitions. Many busy independent retailers may feel they don’t have the time or expertise to succeed on social media.

Our top tips are:
• Share the work load – ask your staff to get involved with the content, it helps shoppers get to know the people behind the business and you may find they come up with some great ideas
• Just be yourself – use your personality in your social media posts to connect with customers
• Social media guides – for a few helpful tips to utilising Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram, you can download our free social media guides here
• It may sound simple, but make sure your website links to your social media channels and even give customers the option of easily sharing products or blogs from your website through social media integration

We’d be interested to hear how your business has benefitted from social media any hints and tips you may have for other retailers. Leave a comment below or, post on our Facebook page or tweet us @cybertillretail!



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