Indie Retailers and Social Media: Perfect Together?

Retail Trend Watchers Say Social Is Under-Utilized Despite Its Potential
July is Independent Retailer Month, a time to salute those merchants across the country who account for half of the annual total retail sales in the US. If our economy is to stay robust, independent retailers of all sizes need to thrive. For the smaller players in this sector of our industry, social media seems like the magic bullet. It’s pervasive, influential, and inexpensive. In addition, platforms like Facebook, offer pinpoint targeting, that matches messages to prospects.

So why aren’t more indies – especially the “Mom and Pops” – stepping up to social? Roughly one-quarter of independents have no social presence at all, and half of those who do have accounts use them inconsistently or post rarely. As regional leaders in commercial retail real estate, this is a trend we’re watching.

(Read more: https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/03/companies-that-do-not-use-social-media.html)

Why Social Media Matters to Small Businesses
As more consumers flock to social – 81 percent of the US population are on it – they expect to find local retailers there. And they expect those retailers to have websites, as well as social presence. Half the respondents to Time Warner Cable’s Small Business Technology Impact Study said they avoided businesses without websites, believing they are not credible. Thirty percent said they may not buy from a company without a social media presence, with females and millennials rejecting businesses without social at an even higher rate. Fifty percent of millennials stated they preferred businesses with active Facebook pages.

Ninety percent of the small retailers who do use social media are on Facebook. In fact, many substitute their Facebook pages for websites, a solution that, in spite of the platform’s popularity and influence, fails to impress potential customers for whom a web presence signals credibility. Bottom line? Small retailers need to think bigger and go with both a site and social for maximum success.

What’s Keeping Indie Retailers Off Social Media
With so much to gain (or lose) and so much competition, why are some indies ignoring or under-utilizing social? Respondents to the recent Clutch 2017 Small Business Social Media Survey say the primary barriers are the time social requires and doubts about ROI. And a recently released study from Infusionsoft says that half of the small businesses they surveyed had no idea what their ROI was and 14 percent believed their investment in social was not delivering a quantifiable payoff. Still, half said they plan to push forward with their online efforts.

From Special Offers to Personal Stories: Social Is Empowering the Indies
While some are missing out on the benefits of social media, many indie retailers are enjoying brand exposure and growth in traffic – both in-store and on the web. Their tactics include:

Storytelling: Millennials especially respond to the personal stories of entrepreneurs, told on social platforms like Facebook or on a website.

Special Offers: Those old reliable – coupons and special offers – are finding a new life on social.

Seasonal Events: In store-events, promoted on Facebook and sometimes livestreamed, are proving to have strong millennial appeal.

How To’s: Recipes, demonstrations, useful information of all kinds are social gold –

especially in video format on Facebook or YouTube.

Charity Tie-Ins: Socially conscious millennials tend to be responsive to social media-based tie-ins to local charities and community fundraisers.

Dialogue: Website visitors and social media followers alike expect responses to their comments and/or questions. Savvy retailers also monitor the major review platforms like Yelp for mentions of their business. Whether positive or negative, they leave a response.

Mobilization: Mobile technology is shaping the nature of shopping. Responsive design that makes websites mobile friendly is essential. And merchants who offer mobile payment options are cashing in with – you guessed it – the millennials.

Social media is no passing fad. Generation Z, the demographic wave behind the millennials, are true digital natives who live the online life. That includes not just online browsing but discovering and connecting with physical stores in their neighborhoods –

often the indies. And the place where this next generation is most likely to connect is in the palm of their hands – on their phone or tablet. Smart indies will make sure they’re there to meet them.

 

Re-inventing Retail: It’s Not Just for the Big Guys

Re-inventing Retail: It’s Not Just for the Big Guys
Smaller Stores are Joining the Latest Retail Real Estate Trend
By Melissa Sievwright – VP, Marketing

In a previous post we shared some of the latest developments in the re-invention of retail – a chapter of our industry’s history that is being written right now. But in case you thought only businesses with mega budgets, like Reebok and Target, could be re-inventors, think again. Independents and small chains are that ready to get creative can transform retail, too. Many of the tenants in the shopping centers managed by Levin are starting to explore the possibilities. Here’s a quick look at some of the winning tactics in this growing retail real estate trend.

Going Hyperlocal Drives Shopper Traffic and Customer Loyalty
The connection between small businesses and their communities is a powerful one, and something that cannot be duplicated online. People are interested in what’s going on locally and prize locally sourced products. Retailers who want to stand out are tapping into this interest and partnering with their closest “neighbors” to bring shoppers into their stores for events and special promotions.

The Seven Most Popular Recipes for Small Store Re-invention
Keeping the hyperlocal connection in mind, re-inventors with small budgets are turning their stores into destinations. The most popular templates are proving to be:

1. Samplings, with food and beverages from local sources.
2. Art shows, with displays by local artists and crafts people.
3. After-hours shopping, with special openings for VIP customers.
4. Product demonstrations.
5. Holiday tie-ins (not just in December), with a special day in every month.
6. Classes, featuring everything from crafts to accessorizing.
7. Charity, with events that benefit organizations (the more local the better).

Successful Re-inventors Look Beyond Their Core Business
Whether a retailer is large or small, they must provide a compelling and relevant customer experience (“shopper-tainment”) if they want to re-invent. That means thinking of themselves as more than a supplier of goods or services. The big players provide great examples. Staples is a source of business support, not just a place to buy supplies. Reebok is not just about gym clothes, it is about a lifestyle. Following these models, a wine store becomes a source for entertainment ideas. A hair salon becomes a place for relaxation and “me time.” The wine store offers samplings from local caterers on Friday evenings. The nail salon has a free mini-massage day. This is re-invention at its best.

Social Media Powers Small Retail Re-invention
Not surprisingly, social platforms are proving to be the retail re-inventor’s best friend. They are being used to announce in-store experiences and for post-event coverage. Instagram and Pinterest, since they are so visual, are popular choices. Live broadcasts from events on Facebook’s Livestream and Twitter’s Periscope are trending as well.

These are exciting times for the retail industry. The big players are breaking the boundaries. But there also is a lot of creative action with a hyperlocal flavor at the grassroots level.

For more about re-inventing retail and smaller businesses, check out:
http://www.snapretail.com/blog/be-the-host-with-the-most-and-stay-under-budget/

http://www.retaildoc.com/blog/attracting-customers-to-experience-the-store-is-only-half-of-retail-success

http://www.nynow.com/industry-insights/how-to-create-amazing-in-store-events