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.



Developing models of Social commerce

There are many models currently being pursued by apparel retailers to lure business through social media. One is having a direct social connect. Instead of having a website that requires consumers to go through the not-so-appreciated process of signing up with details, retailers are opting to provide a social connect. This lets consumers sign up using their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Instagram accounts to shop. 54 percent consumers leave a website if they are put through the process of registering. With users logging in onto their social network medium on a regular basis it is easy to remember details and sign up with ease.

Integrating social connect on a website is bound to increase the registration rates on a retailer's website. The ease for customers to share information creates a simplified user experience. Apparel brands can also develop a better relationship by interacting with customers and being more active with social commerce. A typical Facebook social connect can offer basic information (Name, gender, profile picture, relationship status), e-mail id, events attended, education, work, user activity, check-ins, notes, questions, political views, and interests.

There also peer to peer models available like Ebay and Etsy that are built on the concept of social shopping. They work as community based market places wherein people communicate and sell directly to other individuals. To replicate an actual offline shopping experience there exist websites that offer it online with features like chat and forums to exchange ideas and discuss. Fashism and GoTryItOn are popular social mediums among such platforms.

User curated models like Pinterest, The Fancy, and Lyst are also creating a niche in social commerce. These shopping focused sites let users create and share a list of products for other to shop from. Pinterest has a unique feature where it alerts users when products they have pinned go on sale.

With so many models coming up the marriage between social media and shopping is shaping up new ways of communicating and selling. The biggies of the world of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are in process of thinking to incorporate the "payment" feature to let users shop. Today apparel retailers are experimenting with different models to make the best of social commerce since they have proven to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction. Apparel retailers like Anthropologie and Zappos encourage shoppers to give product reviews on their website while many others have begun including features like "like" and "Pin it" buttons.


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