The Great Social Retailing Invention

    December 10, 2007

Social networking is so popular online that it’s spilling into the physical world – at actual stores. Called social retailing, the concept debuted at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) show last January 2007. Recently, the concept, by IconNicholson was selected by Time Magazine as One of the Best Inventions of 2007.

The technology was developed for renowned fashion designer Nanette Lepore and was tested at Bloomingdale’s early this year. Aimed at young women, they can get other’s opinions on what clothes look good and what their peers are buying. They can also text message, IM and email each other about their shopping choices. Live video feeds show what they try on, send a video of an outfit, and get friends feedback. They can also try on outfits virtually. Retailers get something out of the experience too – real time feedback on inventory, buying habits, and preferences for a pretty fickle group of shoppers.

So I guess this means never shopping alone. Or viewing a sports event or anything. We can interact all the time! I find it fascinating how at the same time these technologies bring us together they decrease face time. Everyone is a text message away so why should you actually need to see one another.

Both on and offline socializing and forming communities around music, shopping, and other activities is hot. I found some data from SellPoint through a study conducted by Coremetrics that talked about how online conversions are affected by audio/video tours of products (and I think that’s what stores need – tours of products and outfit suggestions from designers – for all ages).

My friends at HookSell are doing audio tours of more complicated products and seeing a big impact on conversion rates. Even the homemade version that Dan at DVO does have increased sales on his kitchen gear. The study showed a 35% increase in sales when a video/audio tour is viewed – plus it kept shoppers online longer. Not long ago social media was seen as interesting or fun, but it can also drive business.

When you see Time Magazine recognizing a social media tactic meant to drive sales to stores, you know it’s hit the mainstream.