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Master social media to get consumers offline

Online shopping has absolutely affected my business, as it has the entire industry and retail landscape. Customers approach me for products differently now and the variety of products on the online market has further confused customers who are trying to navigate the oversaturated market.

People used to shop around and spend hours in different stores in order to find the perfect product. But now due to the rise of online shopping, people can view the same amount of stores in a fraction of the time. As a result, consumers seem to be under the impression that they are more time-poor now.

This sense of instant gratification, as well as the hesitation to purchase goods in store, is an attitude shared especially by the younger generation. Because young consumers spend so much time behind the screen, they often struggle to communicate clearly when shopping in person.

Young consumers also shop differently. When they are shopping online, if they don’t like the price or details of a product, they simply leave the website. The same goes for in person. If they see a price they don’t like, they often leave without conversation and don’t communicate. In this respect, social media has damaged public relations terribly.

Social media is not all evil though, and it is a great way to communicate with consumers and get them off the computer and into the bricks-and-mortar. Opening a direct line of communication with customers on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is the first step to building trust and a relationship, which can encourage them to visit the store.

If younger consumers see your products, or a similar product, on Facebook or Instagram, all they need to do is screenshot it and send you a message with any enquiries they may have. From there, it’s the same as any other sale.

"Social media is not all evil though, and it is a great way to communicate with consumers and get them off the computer and into the bricks-and-mortar"

Making big, flashy media campaigns isn’t necessary and simple photos and videos are sometimes most effective. Anything that doesn’t engage the customer within the first few seconds is scrolled past simply because young consumers scroll through vast amounts of content every day, it cannot all be processed. Make content accessible within about half a second in order to get them to pause. If they pause, you have a much higher chance of them reacting to your post, leading to a possible engagement.

Online messaging is particularly great at gaining the trust of consumers given how conversational and informal it can be. It is the next best thing to speaking with a real person. There are some minefields in social media marketing though, especially in the jewellery sector. For instance, a consumer may see a ring online that has been zoomed in 20 times to showcase its details, but when they see it in the flesh they may express disappointment because they feel the physical product isn’t how they envisaged it.

I think it is therefore a mistake for retailers to look towards making their business model solely web-based, as there is no hard and fast way for customers to prove the quality and value of a product online.

This is another reason why instant messaging is ideal for retailers, to ensure their claims are in writing and cannot be misconstrued by consumers, and vice versa. If a retailer is conversing with a customer online and explains the qualities and details of a product, the customer cannot then come in-store and refute those claims, because they are in writing.

The retailer or producer has to remember that how they market their product is a reflection of its ideal representation: What platform will do it justice, a computer screen, or a consumer going in-store to physically see it?

Customer service has always been at the forefront of strong jewellery retailers’ concerns, however now in the digital age, we have to be more diligent than ever before to ensure our reputations are positive and well-respected.

My first employer in the jewellery industry once told me, “If you do a job right, three people will hear about it. If you do a job wrong, 10 people will hear about it.” So strong communication and relationship-building is paramount to success, especially in a time where online reviews are permanent and can be seen by everybody.

By striking the balance with social media marketing, strong salespeople will be able to draw customers away from the computer and in through the door.

Name: Andrew Ioannou
Business: Guild Jewellery Design Pty Ltd.
Position: Managing director
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Years in the industry: 14 years

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