It’s the Season!!

It’s definitely the season of love and understanding, but it’s also the season of shopping and frustration. As we approach Christmas, we find ourselves struggling to figure out what to buy our friends and family and wasting time going from shop to shop. This year around, companies have teamed up with social media to offer consumers an integrated shopping experience saving them time and anger.

Online Christmas ShoppingIt’s not new that Social Media has changed the way people shop and buy. A research report from last year showed that on average, 58% of Americans perform online research before buying. However, we’d have to know exactly what we were looking for when we went online to search for something.

Today, the integration has taken a whole new level; our shopping experiences can be powered by friends thanks to innovative social technologies. Amazon for example is delivering “Amazon gift cards” on your friend’s Facebook wall. You start by linking your Amazon account to your Facebook account. After the accounts are linked, you can customize a gift card by choosing a design and writing an optional message. You can schedule when you would like the card delivered up to a year in advance. Upon delivery, the gift card will appear on your friend’s wall. Only the recipient will be able to see the amount and claim code, and you can choose whether your personal message is public or private.

Another example is Walmart’s app Shopycat, which provides gift suggestions for Facebook friends based on data taken from their profiles, and then the all-important link to purchase the item. Users can ‘like’ items, share suggestions, make wish-lists, and all the usual aspects that make for a social experience.

Other giant retailers are also socially engaging with customers during the holiday’s season. A quick peek at Macy’s twitter feed shows several customer service issues, a link to a blog with fashion tips and gift ideas, and information on charitable opportunities within local stores. A visit to their facebook page shows a coupon for up to 20% additional off sale and clearance items, as well as surveys, gift ideas and more.

This fundamental shift from the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends presents tremendous opportunity for retailers during the holidays to personalize every point of the shopping experience.

Online Christmas Shopping

Although we can notice a significant local attempt to use social media sites during the holidays, Lebanese companies haven’t fully jumped on board yet. Castania, Samsung, Audi Bank, Silkor, Boutique Du Monde and Maybelline Beirut are all using Facebook apps, offering a chance to play and win during Christmas by liking their page, entering a draw or participate in a competition.

Some of them are tucking in some shopping tips and gift suggestions on their walls from time to time but this ain’t enough. This effort is helping them in attracting a Facebook “fan base”, channeling traffic to their websites and probably boosting sales; however a full integration is still missing. Sites personalizing every point of the shopping experience making it about each individual will continue to see momentum, not just during this holiday season but also beyond. Therefore, retailers must grab this opportunity, adapt quickly and learn how to use this new power to improve their businesses and customer relationships.

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2 Responses to How Christmas shopping is becoming social

  1. Tyler Zey says:

    Your examples include big businesses in the online retail community. How do you think small businesses or mom&pop stores can use social media to compete with these bigger retailers?

  2. Marwan A. says:

    I believe budget and creativity proportions are inversely linked when it comes to a social media campaign. It’s true that big businesses have a big money to spend but it’s how creative they can get that differentiate them from each other.

    For small business, the best approach is to identify target market, specify where they are present socially, be super creative, use their small budget for maximum exposure and take advantage of how social campaigns can go viral. Again, it’s all about creativity.

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