Social Commerce Trumps Anti-Social Commerce in the U.S.
Fall 2010 seems to be a time for new information and instant revelations. On November 2nd, anti-social “commerce”—i.e., antagonistic advertising of political candidates’ qualifications and accomplishments (or lack thereof) came to a close with Election Day 2010. Whereas, in years past, political elections in the U.S. were a comparatively tame, less vitriolic affair, today you cannot get away from the constant cacophony and nastiness of the process. Political pundits and self-proclaimed news journalists often become hostile as they prognosticate practically non-stop on 24/7 cable news channels and talk radio. However, for the moment anti-social political commerce is temporarily on hold. Now it’s time to focus on the upcoming holiday season as bricks and mortar and online retailers kick into commercial high-gear.
The good news is this year will not be like every other year according to the Altimeter Group. The reason—the evolution of social media is fundamentally changing how consumers research, view and shop for products and services. On November 1st, the company released its report on The Rise of Social Commerce: A Trail Guide for the Social Commerce Pioneer. The study, based on 54 qualitative and 123 quantitative interviews with respondents from companies in the manufacturing, retailing, consulting and technology sectors, has suggested that …”social commerce will spread to become a cross-enterprise grassroots movement that will redesign the shopping experience.”
Toward that end, Altimeter sees four paths forward: Let’s Be Social—where brand advocacy and increased market share are driven by specific programs; Enlightened Engagement—where decision-making is improved via interconnection of social platforms and e-commerce; Stores-of-the-Community—where fans on social and open innovation networks drive the selection and assortment of services; and Frictionless Commerce—where a consumer-centric experience is created by companies that have taken a channel and category approach to redesigning the shopping process.
The advanced practices highlighted by Altimeter within each social commerce phase play to the Create and Raise stages of the blue ocean framework that we have been discussing in this column over the past several weeks. On the one hand, advanced social CRM and CRM tools, social couponing, real-time social shopping, shelf personalization, demand-shaping analytics and integration of social into physical stores are all practices that can be aggregated under the factors that should be created category. On the other hand, B2C personalization and contextualization, advanced sentiment analysis, virtualization of the shopping experience in-store and virtualization of the supply chain are practices that may be classified as falling under the factors that should be raised well above the industry standard.
Merkle's TargetLab™ customer relationship management planning software is one of the newly created advanced social CRM tools that can be used in demand shaping analysis. Given that shopper marketing and digital out-of-home media are proliferating rapidly, marketers need to be able to determine which consumer Touchpoints are most likely to guide customers to the marketer’s brand at point-of-sale. Our match planning process of scoring and appending client customer data to the Merkle National Consumer Database on the front-end and shopper media and digital OOH subscription data to the NCD on the back-end, allows the marketer to analyze the effectiveness of point-of-sale media in driving product purchase and to do this in concert with the brand shaping prowess of conventional broadcast, cable, web and print media.
We cannot promise to keep anti-social political commerce at bay. However, Merkle's social CRM planning tools can help to maximize ROI efficiency and minimize response analysis completion time as social commerce gathers momentum via outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Twitter and others.
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