Retail TouchPoints: Charlotte Russe Takes Social Shopping A Step Further with ShopTogether
By Amanda Ferrante
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.”
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?