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From shoppable YouTube ads to buy from tweet: how retailers are helping their customers buy from social

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As YouTube owner Google opens up the opportunity for customer to sell via the site, we round up some of the approaches that mean social media is fast becoming somewhere we go to shop, as well as to talk, get advice or be entertained. How to mix ecommerce and social media has been a longstanding puzzle for retailers who first dabbled with Facebook stores but then largely shut up shop on them, before moving on to adopt social media as a way to talk to shoppers, taking their complaints and inspiring in equal measure. But now, new technologies are enabling shoppers to buy on social media, as well as to gain inspiration. We look at some of the principal ways retailers are currently using social media to sell.

Sell from YouTube videos

Wayfair and Sephora are among the US retailers already using Google Shopping’s TrueView technology overlaid on YouTube videos to enable shoppers to buy from their videos. The two are targeting their customers to connect in “a more intimate way” that, promises YouTube owner Google, can “create brand lift and loyalty while still driving conversions and sales.” The retailers can monitor how video watchers behave, and what makes them buy.

Enable shoppers to buy from tweets

Twitter last year gave customers in the US the ability to buy from tweets. UK retailer Burberry was among the first to adopt the new approach, which saw shoppers able to click on a buy button in the tweet to see the product details and then add shipping and payment information. Once entered and confirmed, order information is sent to the merchant for delivery.

Inspire to buy

Amazon enables shoppers who have linked their account to Twitter to add tweeted products to their basket simply by hitting reply and adding #AmazonBasket, while those looking for holiday deals can tweet @TCOffers with the name of a country to have a link tweeted back to relevant offers on the website. When the functionality was launched, in 2014, Thomas Cook’s then chief executive Harriet Green said the use of social helped customers get information “wherever and whenever; sitting on the bus, in the local café or together as a family at home.”

Twitter, meanwhile, enabled Tweet to Donate in last year’s Children in Need BBC fundraising appeal, run in conjunction with the Post Office and opening up possibilities of social media as a payment channel.

Buy from forum

Wine community Vivino recently added ecommerce capabilities to its forum, enabling shoppers to buy wines recommended by the 10-million strong community of wine drinkers who use its mobile app to rate, review and recommend the vintages they’ve tried. Users take a picture of, or search for, a particular wine, and can then buy that wine from a third party merchant using their smartphone or tablet computer. Currently, there are more than 6m wines available in Vivino‘s database.

Have a conversation

As retailers have invested in social media, they’ve honed the use of different networks for different uses. InternetRetailing’s IRUK Top500 research, found that Elite retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Topshop, Asos and Debenhams, use social media effectively to make themselves available and to respond to customers, however they get in touch.

Our analysis also suggested that fashion companies were leading the way in helping shoppers to communicate their shopping questions and decisions to their friends over a variety of networks. Of the IRUK Top500 companies, 488 were on Facebook, 489 on Twitter, 269 on Pinterest and 189 on Instagram. The channels lend themselves to different, and quite specific uses: while a retailer might enable customer conversations on Facebook or answer specific questions on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram lend themselves to sharing images – and the better quality they are, the more sharable they become.

Go international

Cutting edge brands are engaging in social media well beyond our shores. Luxury leather goods company Mulberry, for example, shares links to eight social channels from its home page. Alongside Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, shoppers can also share on WeChat and Weibo as the international brand looks to serve its Chinese customers.

Burberry has brought the sense of social event to its audiences around world, achieving record levels of social engagement across its channels when it posted runway images from its Spring/Summer 2014 campaign to outdoor screens in 13 locations including New York and Hong Kong. It also worked with Chinese mobile messaging platform WeChat to deliver its Autumn/Winter 2014 show, creating what Burberry has described as “the most social media buzz in Burberry brand history, measured across all social platforms.”

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