Social Media's Impact on Retail
Online shopping is a trend in the retail industry that is a constantly changing landscape. What is sure to change is the amount of dollars spent online relative to shopping in retail stores. What is not so sure is where, and how, those online dollars will be spent. Will consumers choose to shop using Amazon.com, Google Shopping or one of many other portals to shopping available to consumers?
A number of very large retailers have experimented with a wide variety of online marketing strategies to maintain a competitive edge and all have not met with the same amount of success. For all the hype Facebook's recent IPO generated, it is still not viewed by many as the go to site where people want to shop. Several big retailers that experimented with Facebook store pages including, Gap, GameStop and J.C. Penney have abandoned the strategy.
Epic Fail, or Just Not Quite Right?
Although some retailers have concluded their Facebook to be an "epic fail", some social media pundits disagree. The conventional wisdom is that, it isn't that selling on Facebook doesn't work, it's that how it has been tried so far has not fit the social media paradigm. In other words, trying to directly sell to consumers on a social media site goes against the grain of the medium.
The appeal of social media, as opposed to traditional media like television or radio, is that social media is not supposed to be an interruption marketing model. Interruption marketing is simply a term marketers use to describe the nature of traditional advertising that interrupts something else to get your attention, like a television commercial. People certainly view commercials as interruptions, so much so they increasingly use their DVRs and any other means they can to skip commercials when they watch their favorite programs. So, the secret sauce retailers need to figure out with online retailing is how to market their wares in a social medium that does not interrupt. Wade Gerten, CEO of social commerce provider 8thBridge recently summed it up in a Forbes article, "The best way to monetize social media is to empower people to promote products to their friends, not for brands to spam you on Facebook."
Impact on Retail Employees
So, what does all this mean to retail workers? What anyone who makes their living in traditional, bricks and mortar, retail environments should be thinking about long-term is the real possibility that the demand for workers in retail stores will likely be declining over time. The skills and experience that retail workers have is not any less useful than it was in the past, but retail workers may have to start to think about and embrace how they will put these skills to use to continue to make a good living. Ignoring the trends that affect their industry could be as disastrous for workers as it could be for retailers who don't adapt to their marketplace.
As a retail employee you should be thinking about your skill sets and your work experience and starting to formulate a long-term strategy for how to maximize your results. Staying on top of the important trends in retail, and how they affect your career, is a key piece to your overall career strategy. Participating in social media, especially in the areas that involve your career is one simple, and great way to keep up with trends. Good information is becoming a tool every employee should have in their tool set. We will continue to bring you timely insights about the retail industry to help you keep your tools up-to-date and your career moving in the right direction.