One of the most successful fashion-related series on U.S. television these days is called, “Say Yes to the Dress.” Each episode involves a bride-to-be trying on some wedding dresses under the expert guidance of Randy Fenoli and his team at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan. They present the bride with a series of dresses. She gets to try them on, and after a suitable amount of indecision and suspense, she says “yes” to the one that means the most to her.
Central to the dramatic narrative of this show is the fact that each bride brings along a handful of close advisors, usually her mother, her sisters, a couple of BFFs and, for extra tension, Dad. Shopping for a wedding dress is not just an exercise in retail. It is not like going to Walmart to buy towels. This is a social occasion. It is a chance to bond and share in the joy of one of life’s most joyous and cherished events. In other words, the social aspect of shopping for a dress is almost as important as the dress itself. It turns the object into an experience.
That is what retailers, especially those in fashion and luxury goods must remember. Shopping is a social activity. In many cases, the buyer seeks social approval, and the opinions of those trusted friends are vital to the decision.
But, not every shopper is going to arrive at your store with a half-dozen family and friends in tow. Or will they?
Mobile commerce technology is making this happen. It is one of the key enablers in heightening the in-store shopping experience by making it a social event. When a shopper looks to buy items that connect in some way to personal taste and style, there is often a strong desire for approval and guidance from others. It is part of our natural, tribal instincts. When he or she can scan the item and show it off to a friend or a few friends by way of a live video smartphone connection, the retailer is given a set of golden keys.
How is this done? This interaction will reveal more about the shopper and the shopper’s friends. These friends can help search for other choices, and the store’s clienteling software can help. The sales associate can act as a guide and expert. At the same time, the friends can also be brought closer into the store’s inner circle, being shown a range of items they may never have considered for themselves, and of course being invited to download the app.
As the world of retail moves more and more towards mobile, store owners must dispense with the myths that the technology is too expensive, complicated, or unrelated to their business. (For more on this, please read my article in Mobile Commerce Daily, here). In fact, it is a consolidator and energizer of the shopping experience. It makes the activity social, even when the participants are miles away from each other.
It starts with offering free Wi-Fi and flourishes once each shopper shares the store’s brand experience with trusted friends. It is fulfilled when these new customers join the party get the app, and start to shop there themselves. This is the future of retail. It is time to say “yes” to mobile.
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