While born-on-the web brands increasingly are featured in bricks-and-mortar stores and malls, established brands are getting more savvy about social media and other forms of digital marketing. The walls separating traditional and emerging brands are breaking down, and retailers need to adapt to this trend.

Frank Poore, president and CEO, CommerceHub

Frank Poore, president and CEO, CommerceHub

As the demand for an enhanced customer experience continues to rise, brands and retailers have started striking new partnerships. Most recently, traditional retailers began to welcome emerging, digital-native brands into their physical stores, offering them an opportunity to connect with their audience in-person. What they have found is that, by working together, they are able to grow their customer base, expand their product assortment, and provide a sense of discovery for shoppers who aren’t early adopters.

That is why we will start to see a movement away from traditional and digital acting in silos, and toward striking mutually beneficial partnerships to address consumer needs.

Worlds Collide: Traditional Meets Digital

In response to this shift, we have seen the line between digital and traditional become increasingly fuzzy. By incorporating highly sought-after, emerging brands onto their shelves, traditional retailers have found a way to leverage their brick-and-mortar presence, as well as breathe new life into their stores.

Social media and ecommerce were destined to collide at some point—no time like the present.

For example, Nordstrom recently welcomed Away, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) luggage brand, to their Pop-In@Nordstrom initiative—an ongoing series of themed pop-up shops aimed to help customers discover new brands. Away is the latest to join the growing list of DTC brands such as Everlane, Casper and Goop that have leveraged the Pop-In@Nordstrom model to garner some much-needed face time with shoppers.

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Additionally, more malls have started welcoming DTC brands in an effort to inject life back into their space and boost foot traffic. For example, Hudson Yards, a new development under construction in New York City, is dedicating an entire floor to digital-native brands—dubbing it “The Floor of Discovery.”

In the year ahead, we can expect to see more of these types of partnerships begin to crop up, particularly as traditional and digital worlds collide. More players will band together in order to compete against Amazon and improve customer loyalty.

Social Commerce: A (Somewhat) New Frontier

As digital-native brands continue to look for new ways to break into brick-and-mortar to provide a more tactile experience for their customers, traditional brands are doing just the opposite. In an effort to be where customers are spending time, traditional brands are now looking to social media and other digital channels to reach their target markets.

Since its inception, social media has been a tool for brands looking to amplify their messaging and increase customer loyalty. By embedding direct product links within posts, brands can now approach their audiences in an actionable manner. This proved to be an extremely useful tool to help brands enhance their omnichannel strategies and customer experience.

Until now, links were the extent to which brands understood how to leverage these new channels. Eliminating interim steps that pose the risk of shopping cart abandonment, Instagram and Snapchat offer brands the ability to include actionable, “buy links” or exclusive codes. Dubbed “social commerce,” social media and ecommerce were destined to collide at some point—no time like the present.

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Take Nike, for example. Last year, the company successfully teamed up with Snap to pre-release its new Air Jordan sneakers on Snapchat. During a live event after the NBA All-Star game, Nike offered everyone at the event exclusive Snap codes, which allowed them to purchase the shoes and have them delivered before midnight the very same night. The campaign resulted in the shoes being sold out within 23 minutes. Beyond selling shoes, Nike also partnered with Snap to set up a special, 3D augmented reality Michael Jordan filter available to everyone who attended the event, providing yet another layer to this unique customer experience.

Soon thereafter, Snap partnered with another popular shoe brand—Adidas—to pre-release a new style of shoe, which the company chose to rollout on Snapchat’s show “Fashion 5 Ways,” where users were able to swipe up during the show to immediately make a purchase. The shoe sold out in six hours, proving yet again just how powerful of a tool social media can be for brands. Social media has now been associated with instant gratification, and since same-day delivery is now an expectation that some consumers have adopted as the norm, we will likely see more brands forge similar partnerships to Nike and Adidas.

Just as the retail industry will continue to evolve, new social media channels will continue to emerge, granting brands even more options in how they can be creative in the ways they connect with consumers and enhance the customer experience.

CommerceHub provides drop-ship, fulfillment, order management and content management services to retailers. The company was acquired this year by private equity firms Sycamore Partners and GTCR.

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