3 Tips to Help Integrate Social Media with Your Omni-Channel Strategy

Integrating social media with your omnichannel strategy

The omni-channel approach may feel like running a business without borders, but what happens when new territory appears? In other words, as retailers launch their omni-channel strategies, they must also make room for an emerging consumer channel that is changing the retail landscape: social commerce.

Social commerce encompasses more than shopping via social media sites like Facebook; it also includes user-product ratings, user-generated product content, social media optimization and users sharing posts of a product purchase with their social networks.

Integrating social commerce into an omni-channel strategy is not an option — it’s a necessity in today’s changing retail landscape.

As retailers strive to produce an omni-channel experience across their multiple shopping channels — mobile, online, in-store, etc. — they should also consider these tips to help them better integrate social media and social commerce into their omni-channel strategies.

  1. Customer research: Use social media to understand what your customers like. For example, track Facebook posts that get “likes” from fans along with posts that hardly get any attention; either will give you valuable insight into how your customers think and how to tailor your marketing and promotions toward them.

    But posting social media content shouldn’t feel like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Use data gathered by a retail ERP solution to help determine your customers’ preferences, and then use social media to promote products or events based on your customers’ wants or interests. Social media can provide you input on what is trending, but also serve as an output to move sales.

  2. Use social media applications that lead customers to your in-house technology: Social networks are developing their own applications to facilitate sales transactions without the user leaving the social media site. However, retailers could strengthen their omni-channel strategy by adopting the advertising aspect of social media, meaning the facet of social media that is a call to action as opposed to information sharing.

    This avenue of social media should lead users to your in-house technology, e-commerce website or loyalty program. The more control you have over the data generated by social media, the more control you have over pushing messages directly to your customers.

    Here’s another reason to drive customers to in-house technology: Social media applications often operate on different technology than what is available in-house, and consequently, a retailer will encounter some technology integration issues. Also, if a company invests in a Facebook application today, two years from now there may be a new, more popular social commerce platform.

    In the end, it’s about how you can get the customer data from social media and apply it to your promotions or to what items you will stock on your shelves. But regarding the promotional aspect of social media, it’s better to use internal data to figure out what to post on Facebook and other software to manage promotions that tie back to your technology.

  3. Integration of back-end technology: An omni-channel strategy includes more than a seamless customer experience across multiple shopping channels; it also refers to the integration of back-end technology essential for the multiple shopping channels to work together smoothly.

    For example, a recent article on IndianRetailer.com highlights how an integrated retail ERP system ensures the smooth operation of e-commerce sales. In the fashion retail industry, nearly 30 percent of products ordered online are returned; a retail ERP solution could ensure correct orders are packaged and delivered, reducing a retailer’s expense of product returns. A retail ERP system could also glean more insight into a customer’s product preference, providing more opportunities for the retailer to connect with the customer and continually drive sales.

With these three tips, retailers can better integrate social media and social commerce into their omni-channel strategies. The modern customer shops more than one shopping channel, and that’s why retailers must be prepared to deliver customer service anywhere and everywhere.