Thursday, March 12th, 2009
At Fluid, we leverage new and innovative technologies to set our clients apart from their competitors. Recently our clients have been asking about “social” features more often. “Social” is the latest buzz word flitting back and forth in the media, and it has caught the attention of both retailers and agencies . “Social” is a term that carries weight: The numbers we see on Facebook, Youtube, and Flickr are hard to ignore. Retail companies are now looking for ways to make “social” features work for them, too.
A large part of the fun in shopping is being able to do it collaboratively. Friends help inform our decisions about what we should buy. They give their opinions on fit, help pick out the perfect pair of shoes, and they are a part of what makes shopping fun. Unfortunately, this desired social interaction has largely been lost as stores move online, and while the fun one has when shopping with friends cannot be wholly replaced, social design continues to introduce new ways to improve the collaborative nature of the online shopping experience.
“Social Design is the conception, planning and production of web sites and applications that support social interaction.” – Joshua Porter (bokardo.com), Designing for the Social Web
The following social design principles offer tactical methods for retail companies to bring social interaction into the online shopping experience. Not only is it designed to inform shoppers, but if done successfully, can also inform the company to help make better decisions in the future.
The social design principles are:
- Encourage Information Sharing – Encourage customers to share information about your products to help inform their purchase decisions and influence the purchase patterns of others.
- Encourage Authentic Conversations – Reap the benefits of engaging your customers in conversation and advertise your products in an unbiased way using social influence.
- Appeal to the Unique Individual – Design for the individual shopping on your website with personalized recommendations and an emphasis on uniqueness.
- Participate in Active Listening – Do not ignore negative feedback. Embrace it, learn from it, act upon it, and make your customers love you for doing something about it.
What I will be discussing in upcoming entries are ways that retail companies can leverage these principles to help increase sales, satisfaction, and loyalty. This is especially important given the drop in consumer confidence and the current economic conditions. Social design does not cost much to implement and can yield tremendous value.