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EDITORIAL Love is in the air – and its putting mobile and social in the store in fashion

Shoppers are cutting back but still seem set to buy this Valentine's Day. Image: Fotolia

Happy Valentine’s Day retailers. Today you are likely seeing a lovely boom in mobile traffic to your site – with some predicting it to be above 50% – driven, as we reported last week, by men panicking.

However, this belies an important fact: mobile is where it is at. According to a wide-ranging study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, both millennials and centennials actually prefer to make purchases on smartphones (58% and 43% respectively) over desktops.

What the Yes research also uncovers, is that these whippersnappers increasingly want to use their devices in-stores. It has been reported before, but this reiterates it; shoppers of all ages like stores – they just need them to accommodate the fact that they also like mobile and social media on mobile.

The move isn’t lost on the industry either and slowly things are starting to move in the right direction. To be fair, progress is glacial, but at least those glaciers are rolling in the right direction.

This week we see that Panasonic open the doors on its new UK Customer Experience Centre, which aims to showcase what is possible in stores using apps, signage, digital price tags and more. Part Amazon Go, part Star Trek, the move offers retailers the ability to see what is at least possible with structural technology hardwired into the retail environment.

But is that missing the point, or, rather, over-complicating the point? Retailers need quick and ready solutions that work right now and which can leverage the technology that is already – at no little expense – in the hands of the consumer.

There is no doubt that the kind of things being pioneered by Panasonic et al will soon be part of the revamped retail environment, solutions are needed right now that real retailers can deploy this week to real consumers.

Mobile, of course, holds the key: it is just what to do with it and how that needs to be cracked. While Wasabi’s new range of bento boxes going on sale in Sainsbury’s feature a QR-based scan-and-win competition, the answer probably more likely lies in leveraging social media and social commerce.

Social commerce is becoming a bit of a thing in ecommerce in 2019. Not only are social sites like SnapChat and Facebook looking to add technologies that encourage users to shop via their platforms, but it is where the shoppers themselves are hanging out, where they are getting their inspiration and, naturally, where they now also want to transact.  

One need look no further than London Fashion Week, which kicks off on 15 Febraury, to see what I mean. Not only has KABOOKI, the company behind the LEGO Wear – that’s LEGO branded clothes, not actual clothes made of LEGO – turned to SnapChat to create a store which, to the naked eye is empty, but which comes alive under the gaze of SnapChat’s AR, but also the week long fashion parade is set to be an exemplar of how power social media is in retail.

London Fashion Week has long thrived on social and in many ways gave birth to the power of fashion influencers on social media. This year it is likely to be a showcase not just for some outlandish frocks and strides, but also for how the fashion brands leverage social.

Look out for social media live streaming, expect lashings of AR and VR and, of course, check out the tailoring on the range of ‘see now, buy now’ offers that let the glitterati buy what they are seeing as they see it.

These tools, while showcased at London Fashion Week, are for all: while retailers maybe looking out for next season’s hottest outfits, they should also be on the look-out for next week’s hottest engagement technology to fall in love with.

Image: Fotolia

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