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5 retail brands that are winning at social media for ecommerce

12 August, 2015

Moda UK gents catwalk 2015

I love being amongst retailers and talking to retailers. Retail and ecommerce are personal passions of mine, ever since my retail days on Leeds high street. So I was delighted to be invited back to another event by Moda UK, which hosts the UK’s largest independent fashion industry retailer conference.

Read my retail story and my ‘Blogging for ecommerce’ talk at Moda UK last year.

Last Sunday I hosted a seminar on effective social media for ecommerce and I chaired a marketing panel at the Moda fashion show at Birmingham NEC. You can read about the day, view my slides and the video below, and find out which 5 retail brands I think are winning at social media for ecommerce.

[View slides and video at bottom of page]

Moda UK catwalk 2015

Effective social media for ecommerce at Moda UK

As the core of the UK’s fashion trade scene, Moda has become the ultimate destination for domestic and international brands and buyers seeking the latest independent fashion. For the effective social media seminar, the audience was spilt between suppliers and retailers, but it was also nice to see some press and bloggers attending too!

Jonny Ross talking on stage at Moda UK 2015

I began the seminar by going through some online retail facts and statistics.

Online retail facts and statistics

  • Mobile’s share of global web traffic leapt 39% since the same time last year, with one-third of all web pages now served to mobile phones.
  • Google recently changed its algorithms to score mobile optimised websites MUCH more highly than non-optimised sites.
  • To make an impact online, it is now VITAL that your website is mobile optimised, otherwise a lot of your digital marketing and social media activity will be in vain.

The last 12 months in digital (milestones achieved in 2014):

  • Worldwide social media users exceeded 2 billion in August 2014.
  • Worldwide penetration of mobile phones passed 50% in September 2014.
  • The number of global internet users passed 3 billion in early November 2014.
  • The number of active mobile connections surpassed the total world population in December 2014.
  • Almost 42% of the world’s population has access to the internet in January 2015 – up from 35% a year earlier.
  • In terms of social media use, approximately 29% of the world’s population now uses social media in January 2015 – this is a 12% increase since January 2014.

Research by GlobalWebIndex suggests that the average social media user spends 2 hours and 25 minutes per day using social networks and microblogs, with Argentinian and Filipino users registering the most, at more than 4 hours per day.

Worldwide online shopping

What percentage of the population bought something online in the past month? Here are the top 4 countries for ecommerce sales:

  • UK – 66%
  • Germany – 63%
  • South Korea – 62%
  • USA – 56%

At the other end of the scale: despite their high mobile use, South and Southeast Asia lag when it comes to e-commerce, with data suggesting barely 14% of Indians bought something online in the past month. Similarly, fewer than 1 in 5 Thais and Filipinos used e-commerce in the past 30 days.

So which brands are winning at social media for retail and ecommerce? Below are five brands that really stand out…

lingerie catwalk Moda UK 2015

Topshop online retail tactics

I  looked at how Topshop use social media to promote themselves online. They:

  • define their audience and then
  • write content for their well defined audience
  • don’t shout about their products
  • instead write about other topics of interest, eg Glastonbury and festival fashion/fashion in the music industry

International ecommerce

I pointed out that we should be considering selling internationally. For example, India has just reached its tipping point where shopping online is now something people consider, so there is a market to tap into.

John Lewis and M&S: where online meets offline

It is also important to bring the online and offline experience together.

John Lewis and M&S use Facebook check-ins to give free coffees in their café. This drives people through the store and ultimately people make additional purchases, they don’t just have a coffee. In addition, their online check-in reaches a wide audience online.

Greggs and the ‘secret hashtag’

Greggs were launching their new coffee brand in their stores. But instead of using their name to power their campaign, they did the opposite and removed their branding from the campaign. The amazing results meant the Greggs campaign made it into the econsultancy ‘10 best social media campaigns’ last year.

The brand took to the streets of seven cities across the UK to offer up a blind taste of its coffee, asking people to compare the coffee to
their usual cup in a survey.

The participants, who were also filmed for the activity, were encouraged to guess the brand behind the blend via Twitter using the hashtag #TopSecretCoffee. The next day, the brand was revealed and they were all sent a voucher to get a free coffee.

Greggs then used this content to power Twitter, Facebook and create great engagement with their audiences.

This is a brilliant example of how social media can be used to reposition a brand.

Tony Hawk and the hidden skateboards

This is quite a cool example from pro skater Tony Hawk. Tony occasionally hides skateboards in random spots then posts a photo of the landmark with a clue as to the location.

If his followers recognise the landmark and can get there before anyone else then they can pick up a free, signed board.

The importance of Omnichannel

And finally, I talked about the importance of retailers creating a coordinated omnichannel presence to amplify their campaigns and achieve the biggest reach.

This topic was also highlighted last year by Ann Summers and Knickerbox CEO, Jacqueline Gold, in her Brand Yorkshire 2015 talk on how retailers can win the digital and social media revolution.

Jonny Ross stage seminar Moda UK 2015

Moda UK digital marketing panel

Later in the day, I chaired a panel on digital marketing for retailers.

Jonny Ross Chairing Marketing Panel at Moda UK 2015

The digital marketing panel brought together the following digital experts:

Liz is an e-commerce enthusiast and commentator, and a design expert by trade. She spoke about the importance of user experience (UX) prior to designing and developing a website. She is an expert in the interactice wireframe software and mockup tool Axure, and talked about how being strategic prior to design and developing can save a lot of money and really increase conversions.

Jim is a marketing strategist and an expert on business and Accelerated Growth. He spoke about how important disruptive marketing is, but noted that the key to success is to be engaging too.

Michael works with retailers and his company delivers a multichannel stock management solution. He talked about how omnichannel selling offers lots of opportunities, but that delivering your campaign promises is vital and relies on effective stock management. All channels must have live data at all times, to avoid overselling and reduce administration time.

Here are some of the questions I asked the panel:

  • How important is it that we connect online and offline marketing?
  • We have heard many times SEO is dead, but Mashable recently said web design is dead in favour of UX – is this true?
  • What is the difference between marketing and strategic marketing?
  • How do landing pages play their role on ecommerce websites?

The audience also asked:

  • Is video important?
  • Can small businesses compete with the big boys using Google adwords and SEO?

What do you think? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on these questions – and I’ll share and respond to the answers in a future blog post.


Moda UK 2015 slides and video

The slides I used can be viewed below or on Slideshare.

Watch a video of the event below or on YouTube.

Please share your comments and answers to the questions in the box below.

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