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Social Media: Driving the Future of Retail

Retail businesses since the dawn of time have always wanted to reach out to their consumers in any way that can help them improve sales and maximize profit. The strategy was simple: marketing the product in question either directly or through advertising mediums to create awareness as well as inviting the consumers to purchase it at the retail store where the product is available.

However, the rise of the Industrial age gave birth and paved way for the Information technology age, an age that has brought so much change to Human history.

In 2001 when the GSM communication system was introduced. It was a breath of fresh air in terms of communication, and has greatly improved the way we communicated with our loved ones as well   helped entrepreneurs who depended on information transfer to grow their businesses. However, that was only the beginning of what was yet to come.

The GSM communication system made it possible overtime to get information handy on our mobile phones especially since the advent of Andriod devices around 2007. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Intagram and Youtube collaborated with these mobile devices manufacturing companies to have their Apps on their devices. Many social media Apps have also been developed to run on these Andriod devices.

Retail businesses have not been left out as they also capitalized on these technology advancement to put forward their products to shoppers who have these devices and are constantly online looking for what’s new in the world. Retail businesses has ceased this tremendous opportunity to sell and improve customer services seeing that online retailing is the new way to go.

I did some research recently and found out that most shoppers prefer to make orders online and have it delivered to them, just at their door steps, while others just go online to check the product, compare prices and decide how to make the purchase. Social media has made all of this possible with some online stores like Jumia, Konga, OLX, Yudala advertising their newest arrivals through social media, it cannot be argued that we have new ways of shopping and looking out for something new. It is also evident that, these online retail stores use more than one social media platform for promoting and advertising to their target audience on different social media platforms simultaneously.

Aside from stores that provide online retail delivery, we also have other brands who have benefitted from using social media to advertise and promote their businesses. Now one can easily order food online and have it delivered at their doorsteps. Social media has made it possible for retailers to get closer to their customers thereby bridging the gap and creating avenue for immediate and timely feedback that supports an upward slope in sales.

It has been proven that about 91% of online brands depend on social media as one of the key marketing avenues. This strategy has paid off well, in terms of creating the needed visibility and getting the desired customer patronage. Social media gets the job done with 3 out of every 5 online brands attesting that they get more customers using social media platforms and have also been able to reach their target audience than they would have with the conventional media.

Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest currently offer in-channel purchasing options. Facebook actually turns your page to an online retail store where items can be bought and loaded in your online cart with the use of the Facebook app, ‘’Ultracart’’ online. Aside from Online retail store who are advertising their brands and getting their products to reach their consumers, individual retail business owners have also taken advantage of social media platforms to showcase their products and have attested to improving their sales just by advertising on social media.

The future of retailing is online and more brands are clamoring for a chance to get their products advertised and purchased same way consumers are seeking ways to make their shopping experience more fun. Social media holds the future of online retailing and we can only expect more.

However, irrespective of the great expectations the future holds for social media advertising, we cannot help but wonder what the future holds for the conventional ‘brick and mortar’ retail.  More specifically, what is the future for ‘brick and mortar’ retail in Nigeria as online retail continues its rapid growth? We can only wish and expect that ‘brick and mortar’ retail in Nigeria will innovate and embrace social media the same way that online retail have done to improve their visibility, sales and profitability.

 

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