Digital & Social Media: Top Three Things Every Retailer Should Know

1. Smartphones are a very important channel for retailers NOW

The recent report from ACMA says “Sales of smartphones are growing compared to a global decline in sales of other mobile phones. Ovum expects smartphone shipments to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.5 per cent by 2014, when they will account for 30 per cent of the wider market.[1] Cisco has predicted that mobile data traffic will roughly double each year from 2010 to 2013, and that almost 64 per cent of this will be video-enabled by smartphone applications. During 2009, YouTube has experienced a 2000 per cent growth in the number of videos uploaded from mobiles.[2] Twitter also has a number of third-party applications where users can upload photos and video, so it is expected that much more video will be uploaded on the go. Smartphones also allow for advertising to be tailored to the user and could be both location- and time-based.”

This is significant for the retail sector and it is not a “coming soon”; smartphone strategies are a reality now. Key strategies retailers should be building and rolling out should include:

  • A mobile version of your site.
  • A mobile application/s to purchase and to locate your stores through.
  • Mobile marketing for example:
    • FourSquare location based promotions around your outlets
    • Mobile bar-code coupons – see more below
    • Location based mobile sms promotions
  • Test & Learn.

2. Online Coupons are HUGE

Online coupons have gone crazy in the USA, with Groupon‘s net worth reaching USD$1 billion. There is so much Australian retailers can do with clear learnings from overseas data and case studies. Greg Sterling points out on his blog, that coupons have been shown to have the most direct influence on consumers shopping behaviour, with 20% of people stating they won’t buy without a coupon and 35% saying a deal or coupon can help them buy, when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Three simple ways to use coupons to boost retail sales:

  • Publish coupons on your website for consumers to print. Tweet the offers and keep refreshing the offers.
  • Use Foursquare – for every check in, give consumers a coupon discount. Tweet and blog about it.
  • Push mobile discount barcodes to your customer database – not collecting mobile numbers? Start NOW – offer a coupon in return for customers’ mobile numbers. (Privacy laws apply – so make sure you have their permission).

3.  Ratings & Reviews are SOCIAL content

I feel a bit like a broken record on this point. For the past two years, I have been urging Australian retailers at The Online Retailer Conference & E-Commerce Expo to use ratings and reviews. It’s simple and easy to add a ratings and review widget to your website, mobile site and mobile application. You will find plenty of plug in widgets online – try

Look at the supporting research:

90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust opinions of unknown users. (Econsultancy, July 2009)

84% of consumers said they were more likely to check online for reviews prior to making a purchase compared to 12 months ago, according to a recent survey by Brand Reputation. (Retail Bulletin, October 2009)

Customer reviews are the most effective social tactic for driving sales, followed by question-and-answer features and a Facebook fan page where companies post information. (Etailing survey of 117 companies, September 2009)

81% consider the availability of customer reviews to be “very important” (33%) or “somewhat important” (48%). (Major consumer electronics retailer/iPerceptions study, January 2008)

I could add pages of statistics that support the fact that ratings and reviews drive sales and conversion. So what are you waiting for?

FINAL NOTE.  It’s a recommendation economy:

Don’t forget to be social – word of mouth drives sales!

In a study conducted by social networking site, myYearbook, 81% of respondents said they’d received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site. 74% of those who received such advice found it to be influential in their decision. (Click Z, January 2010)

[1] A Leach, Ovum, Telecoms and Software News, Smartphones: the silver lining of the declining handset market, 2009, viewed 10 December 2009,

[2] KM Cutler, VentureBeat, YouTube to support 1080p high-definition video; mobile video uploads up 2,000% this year, 12 November 2009, viewed 10 December 2009,

Fi Bendall, Director of  Digital Intelligence, can be contacted via Bendalls Group, where she is Managing Director.

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