Chanda P Kumar
The Symbiotic Play Between Social Media & Physical Store
Although we were living in a world of constant and rapid change, nothing had prepared us for the onslaught of 2020. Living with the pandemic for several months has had us adapt & evolve instantly, while it has created new perspectives towards every aspect of our lives. We see changing behaviours and new values dominating the old ways, even in the retail sector. Although the revolution in ways we shop was inching towards us in a slow pace, the last year took a harsh sweep and injured the retail sector. Retailers realized the importance to make the change quickly, incorporating all that it vital for the consumer world today. In the scheme of things, we see the importance of physical retail environment & social media channels having a symbiotic relationship to create a holistic brand experience today.
Why are Social Media platforms important?
The lines between a digital store and a physical store are quite blurred now. The customer perceives the e-store as an extension of the physical store and much importantly, of the brand itself. The presence of brands on social media enhances the perception and helps increase the trust within that brand. Social media platforms are also a cost-effective method to connect and engage with your customers constantly.
With the addition of many new tools the brands also offer a chance to extend a fresh perspective to its audience. More importantly, social media provides a humanizing touch to a faceless brand, which makes it more relatable and reliable to the consumers.
How to merge the Social Media and the Physical Spaces?
The purpose of physical stores is continuously being re-evaluated. Where some may have already made the leap of faith to forever shop online, most of us still crave the excitement of visiting a physical store. The fear of physical spaces still lingers deep in our subconscious. Where earlier tactility was considered vital, it is now considered a concerning behaviour.
This, however, has not deterred the resilient shopper but also made them more determined to seek other channels to satiate their needs. This is where the digital and the physical realm collided to comfort the consumer in their distinct manner.
Merging physical brand experiences with social media strategy is not always easy to get right but certain brands have mastered the art.
SIGNATURE LOOK WITH FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Tiffany & Co. has always had a strong brand identity but to meet the demands of a younger, fresher, and a more global audience, they too had to evolve. Tiffany’s Blue Box Café became an Instagram sensation when it opened in an iconic location including Fifth Avenue in NYC and Harrods, with its striking interiors, design touches and not to forget the signature Tiffany blue. This time celebrating tea-time instead of diamonds, where people couldn’t wait for the lockdown to end and treat themselves a ‘Breakfast in Tiffany’.
ONLINE-OFFLINE SENSORIAL EXPERIENCE
Glossier has also adopted a similar approach with their signature colour, petal pink but they have also made their physical spaces very sensorial and experiential. These special spaces usually end up on social media, which is then picked up by the feed of the mother brand itself. Glossier refers to itself as a people-powered beauty system which makes the brand relatable.
For brands like Summer Fridays which already have a strong digital platform and a strong brand identity, the inclination was towards creating an experience like none other. With virtual conferences and events taking over the old school events, Summer Fridays improvised and personalized their in-person lavish events and collaborated with Tezza, which originally is a photo and video editing app. The Summer Fridays x @bytezza Collage Kit was a collection of high-resolution images curated by Summer Friday to personalize office or home space. This process introduced Tezza users to Summer Fridays and vice versa, creating unexpected and engaging results.
INTEGRATING DIGITAL AND PHYSICAL
Burberry has launched, first of its kind social retail store in Shenzhen, China. This innovation around social media and retail has pushed the boundary a bit further and is nothing short of a revolution. China has some of the most digitally savvy customers along with a penchant for luxury retail. The social retail store gives the customer a sense of discovery, with the power to engage digitally and physically. They can engage and explore in a digitally immersive environment, which has been designed for the user to interact and participate in person as well as on social media. Through a dedicated platform, the customer can unlock exclusive content and personalized experiences. The store is made up of a collection of unique spaces for the customer to explore.
Adaptation and the Survival of the fittest
The world is slowly seeking the old ways, but the reality is that we can never go back to the pre-pandemic world. The challenge is to evolve in tandem with changes to survive the new world. The amalgamation of the physical with digital and understanding the reasons, why, and how the new behaviours will supersede the traditional habits will help any retail survive and supersede a post-pandemic scenario.