By Joe Skorupa
ARTS (Association for Retail Technology Standards) sets a high standard for white papers. Last year it released the comprehensive Mobile Retailing Blueprin
t. Today, it is releasing the Social Retailing Blueprint. I received an early copy of the 144-page report and pulled out 10 social retailing tactics to help retailers optimize their go-to-market strategies in the emerging field of social retailing.
The mission of the Social Retailing Blueprint, according to David Dorf, senior director of technology strategy for Oracle and chairperson of the ARTS committee that prepared the report, is to examine an important new technology area and determine if gaps in standards need to be filled.
As a result, the report is not a technology road map with granular details, like many other ARTS documents. Instead, it is more of an aggregation of retailer use cases that demonstrate emerging trends and best practices.
ARTS is renowned for being the keeper of retail technology standards and for publishing highly detailed data models, XML integration schemas, POS device integration plans, and RFP and ITT templates.
In order to get to the point of writing these documents, a great deal of research is required to determine if there is a need publish standards. The Social Retailing Blueprint is the fruit of a current research and a first step in moving toward the creation of a standards document.
“If you think about it, in order for us to create good standards, we must understand the business uses and underlying technology,” says Dorf. “If we’re going to learn all of this information, we might as well share it with retailers. It is all inter-connected.”
10 Social Retailing Tactics
Since I can only cover a small fraction of information contained in the large, I thought I would focus on 10 key tactics identified in the conclusion section.
Monitoring and Analytics: Retailers use social media to push out information and then scan mentions. More advanced retailers react to conversations and begin using APIs to collect and store data. The most advanced retailers use tools to aggregate data and do sentiment analysis to understand what is driving consumers to publish content about brands or products.
Targeted Advertising: Social network data is used to create/augment segments linked to demographic classifications or existing loyalty customers as well as existing transaction data based on purchases/returns and call center records. Ads are served up online based on the content and location being viewed. Advanced retailers serve up messsaging based on information learned from consumer behavior and preferences, such as interests, activities and opinions.
User-Generated Content: Ratings and reviews allow shoppers to provide feedback bout products and brands, and an ability to share opinions and experiences. Methods are enabled to support wish lists, blogs and videos. Advanced retailers facilitate discussions about products and help them find relevant content, which may develop into a forum of like-minded customers.
Check-Ins: This refers to all methods that let a retailer know a customer has entered a location, such as a third-arty mobile app (FourSquare or ShopKick). It also includes recognizing loyalty customers when they check in to provide relevant offers. Advanced retailers will shift to geo-location technology that lets retailers know when a customer nears a store or leaves it to provide relevant information or location-based incentives. Uttimately this may lead to turn-by-turn directions within a store.
Social Graph Analytics: Social presence, which begins with Facebook pages and YouTube channels, for example, will evolve into using newsfeed optimization tools to reach the greatest number of customers. Data aggregated through this effort will be analyzed to augment marketing with pysychographics (interests, activities, opinions, etc.). Top influences will be identified and targeted to get marketing initatives to go viral.
Working the Crowd: Traditional focus groups will shift to crowd voting to give customers a voice, and customers will be also be allowed to submit ideas that other customers can vote on. Advanced retailers will tap groups of customers to solve problems and co-create new designs, products, services and promotions.
Gamification: Sweepstakes and contests will be augmented to allow customers to earn rankings for performing tasks like checking in, commenting and participation in forurms. Products will be placed within video games. Retailers create promotions that allow shoppers to virtually run a store or create/share outfits. Data from these efforts will be analyzed to influence merchandising decisions.
F-Commerce: Retailers begin by establishing a Facebook presence and then make offers available through fan stores. Initially, product catalogs are linked to retailers’ online product pages, but this will evolve into creating a complete e-commcerce experience optimized in Facebook.
Social Shopping: Enable shoppers to share pruchases, opinions about products, wish lists and shopping carts. Advanced retailers will enable co-browsing of the same website from two different PCs simultaneously to collaborate on purchases.
Group Buying: Efforts in this area include friends-and-family promotions, daily deals, and flash sales of heavily discounted products offered to members only. Advanced retailers will make special offers only when a threshold of purchases has been reached and they may give predetermined discounts to groups of related people.
The Social Retailing Blueprint team was formed in May, 2011. Members include: 8th Bridge, MicroStrategy, Verizon, Cisco, IBM, Oracle Retail, Versatil, Epson, SAP, Pier 1 Imports, Meru Networks, Red Prairie, Safeway, Criti, Cellpoint Mobile, and Push Science (in no particular order). The mission was: “Provide unbiased guidelines and advice on goals, strategies, measurements, benefits, and obstacles of social networking as related to retailing including real-world examples and useful tools.”
Retailers can download a copy by clicking here
and going to the ARTS/NRF website Fees, if any, are yet to be determined.