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Why WeChat & Weibo have a place in your social commerce strategy

Successful retailers nowadays know that social commerce is anything but a passive exercise. It’s no longer enough to post a marketing asset or two on Pinterest and wait for the masses of would-be customers to trickle in, or barge down your doors, as the case may be. It’s not news that the best-conceived social commerce strategies are those that take a consistently proactive and multifaceted approach to engaging customers.

Asian social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo are the new normal and growing in popularity in North America, which means retailers need to pay close attention. It’s predicted that by 2020, Chinese social media use will hit 647 million active users, rendering a presence on these local platforms an absolute must for brands wanting to connect with the upscale Asian market. WeChat and Weibo have 938 million and 340 million active monthly users respectively.

There’s no denying that WeChat has transformed Asia’s digital landscape: the average user spends 70 minutes a day on the app. Blending facets of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, it also offers an integrated payment system. People can use it to book taxis, order takeout, buy clothes, or pay bills. Although some brands sell directly on WeChat, many major brands instead use it to seamlessly guide people onto their own online shopping platforms.

Retailers seeing success with WeChat & Weibo

Clothing Advisors at Harry Rosen realized they lacked strategies to reach this influential and growing market. Recognizing the importance of Asian social media, they developed a strategy for their sales associates: take advantage of Weibo and WeChat and use them as key selling tools. Customers can chat directly with Clothing Advisors who send them clickable images of exactly what they’re looking for. They can also follow up after a customer leaves the store by texting items they tried on, new arrivals they might like, or even getting in touch on the customer’s birthday to offer them the deals of the day.

When Harry Rosen launched accounts on both platforms in 2016, they enabled their Clothing Advisors the flexibility to use them to promote and sell products while still retaining ownership of the customers and their experiences. Results have been both incredibly positive and unprecedented: Advisors are using the platforms to successfully engage Asian customers. The fact that 30% of online requests Harry Rosen receives come in via text indicates that a growing number of their customers prefer being contacted this way. Clothing Advisors at Harry Rosen are adapting to their customers’ preferences by reaching out to Chinese customers via WeChat and Weibo and inviting them to celebrate Chinese New Year in-store (a decade-old tradition of theirs), or to recommend holiday-relevant products. Retailers need follow suite and prioritize adapting to their customers’ preferred modes of communication.

As a multi-brand department store, Bloomingdale’s has no equivalent in China. Hot Pot Digital is Bloomingdale’s retained China digital agency: its strategy, content and engagement campaigns on Weibo and WeChat have become an essential part of the store’s international tourism marketing efforts.

“Western retailers such as Bloomingdale’s have noticed a surge in Chinese retail tourism in the past few years that is substantially bolstering their top line in primary American and European markets,” says Brian Buchwald, co-founder of luxury retail-oriented digital platform Bomoda.
British luxury leather brand Mulberry, understanding the need to make a digital impact, let loose their marketing campaign for Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine’s Day, in August 2015. Called “Mulberry Love Letters,” the Online to Offline campaign allows Chinese people based all over the world to send heartfelt messages over WeChat, which could then be transformed into a custom image for the recipient. To bring people into their stores, Mulberry promised a selected number of recipients the opportunity to take their digital love letter into one of the participating shops in Shanghai, Beijing, London, Paris, New York, and Toronto to receive a handcrafted leather bracelet that could be customized.

There is much to be learned from WeChat and Weibo when it comes to the future of social commerce. Other retailers currently using taking advantage of this learning opportunity include Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.

The current face of influencer marketing

The fact that a retailer’s associates are its most powerful influencers is at the heart of the social strategy. Many retailers are making it possible for their stores and associates to engage with customers using Weibo and WeChat along with numerous other platforms. By adopting these strategies, retailers are able to take a good look at the opportunities surrounding influencer marketing–specifically how store associates and non-store influencers alike can engage customers and compel them to buy online as well as shop in-store. Any retailer working to integrate clickable products with in-person visits, expressed customer interests, and/or interactions with one’s personal, locally based associates is on the cutting edge as well as on the right track.

Retail industry leaders are learning that successfully tapping into the Asian market means significant profit. Adopting emerging marketing methods like WeChat and Weibo is an incredible way for your knowledgeable associates to tap into the power of the Asian market by making one’s business fully reachable, visible, and clickable on its most frequented platforms. Retailers ready to take the plunge should consider implementing a mobile application that allows sales associates (or Clothing Advisors, as the case may be) to text integrated products directly to happy customers.

Here’s to the continual evolution of effective marketing, AKA reaching people.

5 ways to increase customer lifetime with omnichannel retail strategy

Increasing your customer’s lifetime value

Just after the holiday shopping season in 2017, the Harvard Business Review conducted a survey and analyzed the shopping behaviour of approximately 46,000 Americans. The data revealed that nearly 73 percent of individuals used “used multiple channels during their shopping journey. We call them omnichannel customers.”

How does this shopping channel mix impact the lifetime value of a customer for a retailer? Retailers of all sizes have become increasingly focused on their omnichannel customer experience and how to measure its impact on CLV (customer lifetime value). Today, we’re looking at the relationship between an Omnichannel Retail Strategy and CLV, and offering some tips on how to boost your CLV.


Streamline Customer Service Operations Across Platforms

Service is at the core of shopping experiences and can create a unique differentiator for brick and mortar retailers. Companies need to place importance on their customer service operations and ensure that assistance from real people are available both online and in-store. Associates should have the ability to connect with and serve today’s shoppers both physically and digitally. In doing so, retailers can stay connected with shoppers even after they leave the store, provide assistance while they shop online, and ultimately create a positive, seamless shopping experience.

In providing customers with real-time assistance from an associate, they will be more inclined to shop with that associate as opposed to their competitor where they cannot get the same personalized service. Keeping customers coming back, will undeniably increase the CLV overall. Retailers that have empowered associates to serve online shoppers are seeing a 10x increase in conversion rate and a 50% increase in average order value


Integrate Digital Technology

With an increasing shift from stores to online, retailers need to think of new and exciting ways to bring the human interaction of personalization from stores to their online channels.

Several leading retailers that have utilized an omnichannel strategy have equipped associates with tools and technology that they need to serve both the in-store and online shopper. For example, retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, equip their associates with a mobile associate app that provides them with an online presence and helps them serve the in-store shopper better. Each associate has their own personal storefront where they can curate product collections and send personalized recommendations to their clients with clickable products. While serving a customer in-store, associates can access online inventory directly through the app and then place the order online. Completing the transaction right then and there is much simpler for the customer and helps “save-the-sale” for the associate. By equipping associates with the right tools, customers are able to have a unified shopping experience and keep them coming back for more, which ultimately increases your customer’s lifetime value.


Fight Showrooming

Showrooming is a marketing term that refers to when a customer interested in buying a product and visits a store to interact with the product. They ask questions and decide between available models with the purpose of going home and purchasing the exact product online for a cheaper price.

In certain situations, showrooming can be used to the retailer’s advantage, especially if the company is able to provide floor employees with the right tools and training. For example, if an item that a customer wants to buy is out of stock, an associate can offer to call/email them when it comes in. If associates cannot beat the price in the moment of an item, the associate can suggest contacting the customer when the item goes on sale. As the associate has already spent the time interacting with the client, then they should have built the trust enough to get their contact information and service the client even when they are not there. Reducing the chance that a customer buys from a competitor will increase that customer’s value to the business (CLV).


Harness Customer Data

As technology evolves, it’s becoming easier to gather customer data. Through clienteling tools, customer preferences, purchase history and shopping habits can be collected and then be harnessed to provide further insight into their behaviours and patterns. Associates can use this information to better understand what the consumer wants and needs. This helps the customer see their own value in the retailer’s world. Once they recognize that their shopping needs don’t need to be re-examined with every touchpoint, they will feel valued, which will keep the customer coming back for a good experience. By understanding their needs and isolating specific desires, you can cater your strategy based on that information, which will inevitably increase customer lifetime value over time.


It’s evident that a strong omnichannel strategy directly increases your company’s CLV. If you want to develop an Omnichannel Strategy to increase CLV, talk to your omnichannel solutions vendor, such as Salesfloor, to develop strategies, customer journeys and integrate the right technology.