Retail TouchPoints: Charlotte Russe Takes Social Shopping A Step Further with ShopTogether

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May 20, 2009
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By Amanda Ferrante

Through
a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a
current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

While many retailers
are cultivating a presence on social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, Charlotte Russe has created in-store signage directing customers to
their MySpace page for the latest fashion, accessories
and even the option to shop. Taking it a step further, the retailer has
added a component to its e-commerce site giving visitors the option to ShopTogether.

Created by DecisionStep,
the technology is designed to allow online customers to share synchronized
shopping sessions with friends and family. The integration allows shoppers
to share and compare items as well as communicate via a chat feature. GNC
and Lillian Vernon are also currently using this technology.

Consumers trust friends
above experts when it comes to product recommendations (65 percent trust
friends; 27 percent trust experts), according to Yankelovich Research.

While technologies like ShopTogether seem
like a perfect fit for teen and young adult shoppers, a similar application
is helping Art e-retailer Novica give its more
sophisticated customers the ability to share their artistic insight and
preferences. Novica has partnered with Sesh,
a technology providing group web browsing and
visual communication. Novica Sesh enables
customers to view the same web page, at the same time, from different computers.

“Offering some sort
of discount to current shoppers for bringing friends to shop with them
online makes a lot of sense,” said Jarrod Rogers, CEO, Sesh. “Shoppers are likely
to spend more time and while doing so they will share their excitement
firsthand about the products, turning their friends into buyers.”

Although Charlotte Russe has
adopted the ShopTogether platform, it is not
widely promoted. For optimal results, these efforts should be paraded in-store,
and most importantly, on the homepage.

“Email the user
lists and feature it on Facebook fan pages,” suggested
Andy Lloyd, CEO of Fluid, Inc., a developer of social shopping platforms
for Vans, Jansport and Chaparral Motor Sports. “We
also expect in the future that Fluid Social will be a mechanism where brands
push promotions to users, to reward their most dedicated consumers. For
example, when someone invites their friends to comment on a product using
Fluid Social, which draws new shoppers to the site, it makes sense for
retailers to reward this behavior with special promotions such as offering
10 percent off to both shoppers when one arrives via Fluid Social.”

Mr. Lloyd said there
is great value in friend-based merchandising. “Using the Facebook integration, it is trivial to invite specific friends
to comment on a product,” he said. “This is much easier than
the current standard, which is email to a friend, since you can simply
click on a friend’s picture and invite them to comment without needing
to manually enter their email address. Further, unlike email to a friend,
those comments are stored and available on the site forever.”

Discussion questions:
What do you think of the potential of ShopTogether and
other online social/collaborative shopping technologies? How do you see
these techniques changing the dynamic of online shopping?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: Charlotte Russe Takes Social Shopping A Step Further with ShopTogether"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Collaborative shopping is a great tool for clothing retailers. It allows fashionistas to gather the opinions of their friends before making a purchase, thereby reducing the chance of a fashion faux pas. Will it work as well in other categories?

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

Teens connect and communicate at the touch of a button all the time. If they can’t get what they want when they want it, they go elsewhere and tell their friends. The winners with teens will be the retailers that offer the most innovative and connected cross-channel experiences. Fashion hits will be advertised through these social networks efficiently and cheaply. The caveat to that, of course, fashion misses will be exposed as efficiently as well.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

I think this goes way beyond the obvious. College kids who are separated from their high school friends will use this as a way to stay engaged. This becomes a way to create wish lists for upcoming birthdays. College kids who need clothes, and the parents who are going to pay for them, can collaborate. I’d expect younger consumers to absorb this concept immediately….

Gene Detroyer
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

It is already happening, at least in my family. It is not unusual for my wife and daughter, when talking on the phone to each go to the same web site simultaneously to view contemplated purchases for each other or for the grandchildren. Charlotte Russe is just taking this to the next logical level and one that fits very neatly into the lifestyle of the Millennium Generation.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 11 months ago

The trouble with all of this is the increasingly diminished attention spans of everyone. 3D Internet virtual worlds, including Second Life, have hosted this shopping for a few years now. However, even that full-motion medium is waning in its influence on society. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter have slowed in their growth recently. While concurrently, other media are springing to life to encourage this collaborative shopping.

I think the idea of shopping with friends and relatives is attractive and retailers AND CPGers should participate. They need to wring out all the value while it still has some, and be flexible enough to migrate to the next big idea when it comes…most likely tomorrow.

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
11 years 11 months ago

I tried to use this technology, and found that the reality may have differed from my expectation. It wasn’t really possible to “share” a purchase decision with a friend unless I had prearranged for them to be online at one of the network sites, or to have set up the update notifications procedures.

Having said all that…I am confident that teens are way ahead of me! This is an excellent use of technology and hits on actual current teenage behavioral trend. It fits the demographic, fits the technology, and didn’t really cost all that much. Great move.

j m
Guest
j m
11 years 11 months ago

I wish I had known about something like this when we were ‘catalog’ shopping for clothes for my sister’s wedding. While you only go to so many weddings, something like this would be a very applicable and convenient experience for many people browsing stores for matching outfits for any occasion.

Rick Boretsky
Guest
Rick Boretsky
11 years 11 months ago

Like others have already stated here, social shopping is already happening. I hear endless stories of how teenagers are involving their friends in their shopping decisions whether it be through online social sites, texting, product reviews, etc. Today’s young shoppers seek recommendations and advice from those they trust, not only from ads and TV. Anything that facilitates this, like Shop Together, is a good thing.

Yes, things will still change and evolve from here, with each new innovation or social site becoming more important than its predecessor but that’s how it looks like things are headed.

Bruce D. Sanders, Ph.D.
Guest
Bruce D. Sanders, Ph.D.
11 years 11 months ago

Traditional retailing wisdom says that if people shop together, the total sale is greater than if each of those individuals had shopped alone. Consumer psychologists talk about the “risky shift,” where people are more likely to spend money and experiment with fashion trends when they’re alongside their buds. At the same time, some more recent research by Adam Duhachek, Shuoyang Zhang, and Shanker Krishnan of Indiana University suggests that on social networking sites, negative WOM will crowd out positive WOM. The criticism of products grows as the network communicates.

So in the spirit of Max Goldberg’s comment that this technology could help people avoid a fashion faux pas, it is possible that shoppers concerned about social risk will get more cautious and take a noticeably longer time to make online shopping choices as the Charlotte Russe ShopTogether pages are encouraging the group to “Show your friend what you are looking at” and “Chat with your friend as you shop together.”

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