According to Wikipedia, social shopping “is a method of e-commerce where shoppers’ friends become involved in the shopping experience. Social shopping attempts to use technology to mimic the social interactions found in physical malls and stores”.

There’s no doubt that the concept has introduced a social and fun element to online shopping, making it a much more similar experience to shopping the high street.

What was once perceived as a threat has been turned into an opportunity by savvy retailers who have embraced the phenomenon and made it a useful component of their marketing toolkit to engage shoppers. Subsequently, social shopping techniques are being trialled and embraced by multichannel retailers across the globe.

Consumers are responding enthusiastically, as they continue to engage with social media and say what they ‘like’. Facebook alone generates around three billion ‘likes’ each day. E-consultancy has also reported that 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know.

Retailers and brands who develop a strategy to not only generate positive social shopping but also connect and reward their most active and influential users are those most likely to benefit. The key is to equip shoppers with the tools to feedback and encourage, but not interfere, with conversations. Forums and rich POS in-store can help facilitate the process where ‘likes’, recommendations and positive reviews all further engage customers and help turn social shoppers into social purchasers.

Fusing online and offline worlds remains one of the biggest challenges for retail, particularly when ROI remains a key consideration. We recently launched a campaign which addressed the issue for Sharps’ Bedrooms walk-in wardrobes. Digital marketing enhanced the in-store experience and, for the first time, Sharps used video to engage customers. QR Codes in-store led to information rich videos, guiding shoppers through their purchasing journey and genuinely enhancing their experience. The campaign was supported by a wider social shopping strategy incorporating Facebook and opportunities to share.

As technological advancement and consumer behaviour continues to drive retail developments we shouldn’t forget that it all boils down to improving shopper experiences that create deeper engagement and turn shoppers into purchasers. The really successful strategies are those that are rooted in insight and a brand’s DNA with measurement set against key business metrics.