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Social means so much more than a Facebook page or a Tweet these days. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest — to name a few — are making their mark on the retail marketplace. But are they short-term trends or do they have the staying power to become long-term solutions? What are the best approaches for retailers? What does the future hold? These and other key questions are asked and answered in this section.

Finding The Right Audience With Social Analysis

VP site only Networked Insights head shotThe World Cup dominated the news this summer, even in publications that don’t typically cover sporting events. Despite the early U.S. elimination, American consumers and brands stayed involved in the action from their introduction to Cristiano Ronaldo to Luis Suarez’s bite to Germany’s impressive win. More importantly for marketers, the Cup provided evidence that real-time marketing has come a long way since Oreo’s legendary Super Bowl 2013 Blackout tweet.

Regardless of World Cup sponsorship status, brands leveraged the excitement in marketing activities, some more successfully than others. Examples include the anticipated Nike Risk Everything campaign, the commercial from Cup newbie Beats by Dre’s Game Before the Game campaign and the inevitable Coca-Cola v. Pepsi battle.

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Yes-Sir.com And Man Made London Unveil Social Media Pop-Up

Luxury brand Marc Jacobs caused a stir when it launched a pop-up Tweet Shop supporting its line of Daisy fragrances. Consumers were asked to use #MJDaisyChain in tweets, as well as Facebook and Instagram posts. The more the hash tag was used, and the more influential the posts, the more “digital currency” was aggregated.

Now, Yes-Sir.com, an online destination for men’s grooming products, and Man Made London are partnering on a social media barbershop to generate buzz and engagement for both brands.

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Five9 Updates Cloud-Based Contact Center Solution

SS Five9 imageCustomer service is a pivotal part of the browsing and buying journey. Service agents, as a result, play an important role in educating consumers, answering questions and creating a more enjoyable shopping experience across all channels, including via email, phone and social media.

The Five9 Summer Release, an update to the Five9 Cloud Contact Center Software, includes multichannel applications that integrate social, chat, email and mobile. Each app is designed to allow contact center representatives to engage with customers on their preferred channels and devices. The apps are powered by Five9 Connect, which includes a Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine that filters and categorizes interactions, eliminates spam and determines author sentiment to identify only the most important inquiries.

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Charlotte Russe And Nordstrom Connect Instagram Content And Commerce

With more than 200 million active users and 60 million photos shared per day, Instagram is a top social network for consumers to share images and connect with their favorite brands and retailers. 

Although the photo-sharing network recently unveiled an advertising model that included sponsored photos and videos, one thing was missing: A clear, seamless connection to the e-Commerce site. That is, until now.

Visual analytics and marketing company Curalate has unveiled Like2Buy, a new solution that makes a brand or retailer’s Instagram feed shoppable. Charlotte Russe and Nordstrom are among the early adopters, and executives already are expressing enthusiasm for the results they’re seeing thus far.

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Magento Adds Soldsie Extension To Connect Marketplace

soldsieSoldsie, a social shopping service, has integrated its solution with the e-Commerce platform from Magento. Brands and retailers now can download a free extension of Soldsie’s Enterprise Edition through the Magento extensions marketplace, Magento Connect.

The partnership between Soldsie and Magento is expected to help brands take advantage of the organic word-of-mouth and increased purchase urgency that social commerce can create, according to a company press release.

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Texas A&M Partners With Knights Apparel For Back-To-College Roadshow

texas AMTexas A&M University is partnering with collegiate apparel supplier Knights Apparel on the Costco Back-To-College Roadshow. During the campaign, which will run Sept. 4-Oct. 10, 2014, Costco will carry an exclusive line of the University’s Aggies Gameday Apparel.

The apparel will be produced by Knights Apparel and will be sold exclusively in 20 Costco locations. Featured products will include fashion polo shirts and embroidered applique V-neck wind shirts.

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EGifter Mobile App Puts A Social Spin On Gift Registries

SS egifter imageRegistries are common fixtures at bridal and baby showers because they streamline the gift giving process and help consumers ensure they’re only buying the products their friends and family need.

Social gifting company eGifter has expanded its Social Gift Registry platform with the launch of new mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. With the apps, consumers can use their personal mobile devices to scan products in stores and add them to their eGifter social gift registries. The registries can be managed from any device, and are designed to let registry owners and gift givers spread the word about products via social channels.

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Mountain Hardwear Reaches 555,000 Customers With Socialondemand

For brands that sell through numerous retailers on a national or global scale, it is imperative that their messaging and image stays consistent across all channels. This can be especially challenging for brands that are managing relationships with multiple retailers. 

Outdoor brand Mountain Hardwear, which is a division of Columbia Sportswear, provided retail partners with compelling content and resources using socialondemand from purechannelapps. By extending relevant, timely and rich resources through its network of retail partners, Mountain Hardware was able to reach more than 555,000 new consumers on a local level. Overall Cost-Per-Click (CPC) for the tool is just $0.15, an 86% decrease from the search engine marketing standard of $1.11 per click.

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Retailers Increase Investment In Social Customer Service

twitter-support-copyBillions of consumers worldwide are tapping into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks on a daily basis. Whether they’re sharing photos, commenting on friends’ pages or browsing through brand accounts, consumers see social networks as prime outlets to share and discover new things.

To engage with highly social shoppers in the omnichannel era, progressive retailers are looking to social customer service. More than half (67%) of businesses note that social customer service is growing in importance and is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centers in the U.S. and UK, according to a study from Forrester Research.

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Four IT Trends Dominate The Retail Industry

RR SAP imageFour broad technology trends — Big Data, social media, seamless retailing and disruptive technologies — significantly impacting the ways retailers conduct business and engage with consumers, according to a research report from SAP.

The SAP report, titled: Top IT Trends In Retail, analyzes the four trends and provides explanations of their importance and roles in the retail industry.

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Back-To-School Spend Trends: Sales, Social Media And Starting Early

BTSgraphicAs the summer season nears the end, families will venture home from their vacations and head straight to the stores for their annual back-to-school shopping spree.

In 2014, families are expected to spend more on school supplies compared to last year. The average family with children in grades K-12 will spend $669.28 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5% from 2013, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF 2014 Back-To-School Survey, which was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, indicated that total spending for back-to-school and back-to-college shoppers will reach $74.9 billion this year.

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Is Facebook’s “Buy Now” Button The Next Generation Of Social Commerce?

FacebookFacebook is in the early stages of testing a new feature designed to help businesses drive sales through the users’ News Feeds and on Pages.

A “Buy” button will be included in ads and Page posts as a call-to-action for customers to purchase products directly from a brand or retailer without having to leave their Facebook pages. The test currently is limited to a selection of small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S.

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Wool And The Gang Creates Tight-Knit Community With Olapic

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Consumers are increasingly referring to content generated by their peers to find shopping inspiration. In fact, shoppers find user-generated content 20% more influential on purchases and 35% more memorable than other types of media, according to research from Crowdtap and Ipsos. 

Brands such as Wool and the Gang thrive on community interaction. In fact, the entire Wool and the Gang business was crafted with interpersonal communication and the “maker movement” in mind. The site offers a vast collection of knitwear for women, men, children and infants.

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Key Considerations When Drafting An Effective Social Media Policy

VP site only head shot TriNet2In recent years, social media has become an invaluable tool that many retailers use to engage with customers, build brand loyalty and increase profit margins.

Retailers can leverage social media as a broad marketing tool to post promotions and company news, connect directly with potential customers, provide real-time customer service and feedback, and even monitor competitors and improve internal communications.

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