Electronic commerce and mobile commerce is growing by leaps and bound in developed as well as developing countries. With the increase in the amount of smartphone users globally, the use of social media platforms has also alleviated. According to a study by BI intelligence the year 2013 accounted for 75 per cent of sales through social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. The study also confirmed that 39 per cent Facebook users follow their favourite brands and research on products. It also claims as many as 74 percent of consumers make use of social media to guide purchases.

Apparel retailers are not restricting expansion to brick and mortar stores but are open to adopting different channels to maximize sales. Social networking platforms play a huge role in today's times in bringing business and generating revenue. According to e-commerce trends a study done for Shopify stores revealed nearly two-third of all the social media traffic came from Facebook. This was followed by Pinterest and Twitter. Other networks like YouTube, Instagram, Google+, and Vine are popular mediums used by clothing brands for boosting sales.

Social media fetches big data

Social media marketing is an important tool in branding and in turn has led to increasing traffic on the company's merchant site. Being an interactive medium using social media provides a broad outlook of consumer's likes and preferences. Merging it with a platform where one can buy and drop a comment or suggestions gives access to a large amount of data. This has led to online retailers using social media monitoring tools, tracking the usage from mobile devices, and web searches to track shopping patterns, brand sentiments, and watch closely their online movement. The big data provides a complete stance of consumers. It gives a glimpse of customer's evolving preferences, influences, transactional behaviour, and psychographics.

The use of smartphones to shop through social mediums also provides additional details to retailers like geo-locations which is perfect for optimum geographic targeting consumers belonging to a specific locality, city, or area. Tools like sharing and likes can be very useful to apparel retailers. They let brands have an insight on which garments or styles are moving and which are not. Social media has become so influential that even fashion forecasters are studying the behaviour on social media to predict future trends based on posts, comments, and shares of articles.

How are retailers using big data to get big business?

Big analytics and data available through social commerce can help apparel retailers identify most profitable customer base through customer segmentation and profiling. Information from such sources can provide a deeper understanding and help predict future behaviour. Personalized marketing becomes possible when retailers have access to such detailed information. Apparel retailers can tailor prices, discounts, and even marketing strategies to target consumers by identifying their requirements through access to such valuable data.