Facebook, Pinterest & Apple Are Changing Fashion Merchandising
August 12, 2013
•Fashion Design and Merchandising, IADT General
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2013 is the year of mobile.
With continuous updates and advances in smart phone and tablet technology, retail stores and merchandisers are beginning to see the advantages of going mobile. Customers utilize – and trust – eCommerce stores more than ever before. They refuse to be limited to products only available in their area. The Internet allows shoppers to buy products from anywhere.
Companies see the value in going mobile. Consequently, Rachel Strugatz of Women’s Wear Daily concludes “Mobile commerce is primed to dominate the digital space over the next 12 months.” This includes both large companies and independent designers – like Tory Burch, whose increased mobile efforts have directly increased mobile sales.
Social media and networking organizations, including Facebook, Pinterest and Apple, are responding to these consumer trends. Learn how these three organizations are adapting to modern consumers – and, consequently, changing Fashion Merchandising:
Early this year, Facebook launched a Gifts program as well as a Facebook Card program. Tim Peterson of Adweek notes that these e-commerce moves may have big implications for both advertising and shopping.
Here’s how they work:
- Facebook Gifts: [http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/facebook-unwraps-gifts-product-144043] The program allows users to start sending their Facebook friends actual gifts, including material items, food products and gift cards. This stems from Facebook’s acquisition of Karma and replaces Facebook Credits. The social network itself has never been perceived as an eCommerce store, but Gifts may change that perception. Users may become acclimated to buying products on Facebook. Peterson believes that “gifts make sense as a table-setter because it extends actions Facebook users already take such as posting to a friend’s profile on their birthdays or clicking the like button for engagement announcements.” To date, the program has minimally impacted Facebook’s earnings.
- Facebook Card [http://newsroom.fb.com/News/569/Introducing-the-Facebook-Card-a-New-Type-of-Gift-Card]: This program works in some ways as a springboard for the Gifts program. Users can select from Gifts’ “Cards & Digital” category to send friends a gift card for a specified company. Facebook sends your friend a Facebook Card, which can then be used at the retailer’s location for the amount specified. The cards are reusable. After you receive your first card, Facebook will update the card with new gifts when they are given. The update is automatic and can be tracked on the Facebook app, in your account settings. The Card also has the potential to help companies better connect their advertising to their sales. Facebook may offer tracking features to companies, allowing them to see what ads drove traffic to actual purchases.
What are the implications for Fashion Merchandisers? Merchandisers working for companies that are contracted with Facebook may be able to use Facebook Gifts and the Facebook Card to see which ads are most effective.
Because of the tracking features, Facebook’s new features could enable companies to successfully adapt their advertisements. Companies may be able to see where and when ads ran, what else customers purchased and what offline stores were visited. With such targeted advertisement efforts, Fashion Merchandisers could pursue Facebook users on an individual level.
In February of this year, Chief Executive of Pinterest Ben Silbermann told The Wall Street Journal that the social scrapbooking network is “building foundations to monetize.”
Writing for The Business of Fashion, Thomson Reuters reports that one of these new monetizing tools “will show businesses the number of visitors it delivers to their websites.” The tool will provide information regarding user activity on Pinterest as it relates to a particular company with the goal being to help companies see what resonates with consumers and what does not. It is available to businesses for free.
Previously, Pinterest had not displayed any revenue-generating advertisement. However, with an increase number of retailers utilizing the network to promote their products, Pinterest’s move to increase monetizing is only logical.
What are the implications for Fashion Merchandisers? Like Facebook Gifts and Cards, merchandisers will be able to use this technology to track the impact of their advertising. They may be able to adapt product presentation and general advertising accordingly.
This may impact store inventories. Products which show poor results online may only be available at brick-and-mortar retail locations – or, these products may disappear altogether.
Pinterest may also impact the success of small, niche online stores. Because the tool is free, boutiques and other independently owned companies may be able to analyze their advertising in ways previously beyond their monetary means.
When Apple released the new iPhone 5 in September, the smartphone came with a pre-installed app called Passbook. Lauren Indvik, writing for Mashable, noted that this application, “which lets users store and retrieve coupons and loyalty cards from their favorite brands, was released as part of a software update (iOS 6)” for all Apple mobile and tablet devices.
Users may use the application to subscribe to different retailers and brands that allow them access to limited time offers, specials and sales, as well as exclusive coupons. The app displays a scannable bar code onscreen so shoppers can redeem their offers at checkout.
However, companies are using the app for more than just coupons. Gap, which launched a special round of offers to Passbook users in Japan, enabled customers to redeem the Passbook code for swag – including coffee mugs and totes. The Global Director of Digital and Social Media at Gap, Rachel Tipograph, noted that the offer was only promoted using social media and that, though they did not have enough data at the time to provide a concrete conclusion, she had “a hunch [the customers brought to Gap by Passbook] were not the people usually walking into a Gap store.”
Passbook is easy and convenient for consumers – and companies. Apple is avidly marketing the app, which allows retailers access to Apple’s large userbase. Besides Gap, companies such as Target, American Airlines, United Airlines, Walgreens, Sephora and Fandango have utilized the application for promotional offers or loyalty rewards programs.
What are the implications for Fashion Merchandisers? Apple’s move into e-commerce applications is nothing new. Google provides a similar service known as Google Wallet. However, with a large corporation like Apple moving in this direction – along with other organizations – the move to mobile is undeniable.
Merchandisers must know how to work with these applications. Whether working for a large corporate retailer or an independent boutique, Fashion Merchandisers must be technologically savvy. Recognize that an easy way to increase business – and word of mouth about your company – is to work with apps like Apple’s Passbook.
Interested in how mobile trends are changing Fashion Merchandising? Talk to your advisor about enrolling in these courses at IADT next semester:
- Marketing Communications
- Electronic Marketing
- Fashion Marketing and Consumer Behavior
- Fashion Publicity and Promotion
- Fashion Media
- Principles of Buying
- Computer Graphics for Fashion Design