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Social Media Shopping: Keeping Retail Up-to-Date with the Latest Shopping Trends

Internet retail is a constantly changing beast and at any given time, it seems like someone else is two steps ahead in terms of innovation and client outreach. Maintaining your online social network can be a full time job unto itself, but keeping up with the cutting edge is necessary if you’re going to stay on top of your online sales.

If you sell anything online, from raincoats to rice cookers, the latest movement in improving on the customer experience is social shopping.

Most of us know (and some of us are) that person who needs at least one more opinion before making a purchase. Whether it’s an ice cream maker or a new pair of pants, knowing what someone thinks before you buy can make all the difference. Even if you don’t think you’re an opinion shopper, consider the last time you looked for a product online. While perusing your options, did you click the button that let you see only products that were highly rated by other users?

The user opinion feature is quickly becoming a standard in online shops. There are even websites dedicated solely to collecting product opinions. Just as Yelp, Google reviews, and Urbanspoon guide many of our retail and restaurant purchases, positive reinforcement is poised to change retail, as well.  If you’re committed to staying on top of trends in online shopping, going social will need to take on an entirely new meaning. Fortunately there are a lot of options available already, and more than enough room for innovative improvements.

Sharing the shopping experience

The “wish list” has been around since the advent of retail stores, but the way in which these lists are shared has taken a whole new direction. Most shops offer a standard registry, but some companies are stepping it up and letting shoppers not only create a list, but share that list with others — and get their opinion on select items through social media. For example, eBay’s “Help Me Shop” feature invites users to create a wish list of items and share them on Facebook with a shopping poll in order to gauge friends’ collective opinion.

Other sites, such as Svpply, are composed entirely of member submissions and include features such as the ability to follow other shoppers with similar interests and view how many people either want or own listed items.

Bazaar-style browsing

Other sites have taken a cue from Pinterest and opened their doors to hundreds, if not thousands, of retailers via the use of bold, clickable imagery. This type of shopping approach is good for small business owners looking to get their product noticed by more shoppers.

Instead of hosting just your own website, you can list your products for sale on sites such as Etsy, Buzzmart and Storenvy. Depending on what you sell there might be some restrictions as to what you can post. Etsy, for example, only sells vintage and homemade items, but most of these sites allow shop owners to post items for sale so that others will find them while browsing. Most feature a company performance rating, consumer product rating and the ability for shoppers to post items on Facebook or Tweet about them.

Feeding the coupon giant

Online couponing is probably the biggest and most well-known of all the social shopping options. Starting with Groupon’s original concept of purchasing items for less than retail through group quantity discounts, online coupons have grown far beyond the single items deal. According to a recent report presented by InternetRetailer.com, 67% of shoppers have used coupons they downloaded and printed from the web.

That means they’re not only utilizing sites that offer coupons from several different companies daily, but shoppers are also downloading coupons from retailers’ websites before making a purchase at a brick and mortar store. If you have a smaller business, the broad reach of coupon giants such as Groupon,  LivingSocial.com and Coupon.com might be a good approach for getting your name out there, but even offering a coupon on your own website and posting that deal on Facebook is a great way to drive customer traffic. If the deal you offer is truly great, users will share it and the word will spread.

Exploring your options

If you’re interested in seeing some of the innovative and alternative approaches to online shopping that are currently available, check out the app store on the website Shopify.com. Even if you aren’t using the company for your storefront, the list of apps at least gives you an idea of what’s available on the market and an idea of how to approach your own sales from a different angle. From “Flusher,” an app that automatically clears all products with zero inventory from your store, to Abandon App, which allows your shop to recover lost sales, the Shopify app selection is a great place to get started when considering how to improve on your online retail website.

Do you have an opinion on any of the sites mentioned here at the forefront of online sales? Are there any others that you find useful for your company?

Want to know what is being said about your company and how you can capture more sales through social media, then give Viralheat a shot. Click to request a demo and learn how Viralheat can surface sales leads.

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