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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Online Retail Internet Tools that Consumers use Today

51% considered information shared on their networks when making a purchase decision

Social Networks Have Forever Changed Online Behaviors

Online Retail Internet Tools that Consumers use Today

There are many apps that consumers use when shopping and retailers are starting to exploit those tools to engage and improve on the customer experience.

Online User Reviews

There are many sites that offer user reviews that assist consumers in making buying decisions. Buzzillions is one such site and Amazon offers the reviews for products they sell. Many other retailers like Best Buy also offer user reviews for their products. The granddaddy of unbiased reviews is Consumer Reports. They do a fantastic job of linking their printed publications with their website.

Consumers are more informed today than ever before prior to making a purchase.

Daily Deals

Groupon is the biggest player but there are a lot of regional players like WagJag and Kijiji’s version. Every city has a small player also trying to gain market share offering the same type of 50% off on restaurants, spa services and art framing. You will want Deal Alert to keep track of all the deals of the day in one simple email.

FaceBook Retail

Retailers have started using FaceBook for generating retail sales and crowding reviews and trying to create a sense of community. This approach has been widely successful as statistics are showing that sales through this portal are growing. Special coupons and deals are offered to those in the friends list. This is rapidly becoming the friends influence factor.

Quick Response Code Scans

QR codes are 2 dimensionna codes. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, url or other data. . These are starting to show up on products, aisles and in printed flyers. With the ability for a Smartphone to scan a QR code the consumer has instant access to information about that product. This is another way that retailers are trying to have to advertise their products.

You Tube Unboxing Videos

The younger generation uses YouTube the way the older generation watches television. This allows consumers to search for product reviews and unboxing videos to investigate a product before purchase. Naturally, retailers have taken advantage of this in order to advertise their products through another method to reach a target audience.


Yelp is a User Reviews and Recommendations portal for the Top Restaurants, Shopping, Nightlife, Entertainment, Services and More. I have used it more for restaurant reviews but its importance is expanding and works very well in a local way.

Location Based Apps

FourSquare: This is an excellent location based application that gives you & your friend’s new ways to explore your city. It started out as more of a game where members can Earn points & unlock badges for discovering new things. I find it a bit difficult to understand why a member needs to be the Mayor of their local coffee shop but retailers are using it as another way to drive traffic to their location. Shopkick is the first mobile app that gives you rewards and offers simply for walking into stores. Their offers are extended to you while you are in the store. Check in with Gowalla on your phone to stamp your Passport at each place you visit. It's pretty much like stamping your passport in real life. This application allows users to share experiences and activities that include shopping.


This social media application is also creating brand awareness and opportunities for retailers to get a message out to consumers and to offer discounts and deals. Ivanka Trump is known to tweet out hotel deals for her Trump Hotel Collection to over 1 million followers.

Social Gaming

Farmville is probably the biggest gaming platform on the internet today. Retails have found a way to exploit the game to attract consumers and influence their buying behavior. While playing the game in your viral world you can stop by the McDonalds to get something to eat. Retailers reward the player with virtual cash that can be spent within the game environment.

Loyalty Programs

Every retailer has introduced a Loyalty Program that tracks purchases and awards points. Retailers love to create the “stickiness” but also are able to clearly track purchases and timing information in order to apply new marketing initiatives. These programs also create a sense of community and its members can get special shopping nights and discounts by using their loyalty card.

Mobile Coupons

Coupons have always been used as an important marketing vehicle for retailers. With many shoppers having Smartphone the coupon is now on the device. So you may need to show the cashier the coupon on your Smartphone screen in order to get the discount. I have not had great success with retailers stuck in the 70s that ask you to printout the email or coupon in order to take advantage of it. Retailers need to accept the virtual coupon and provide a redemption code that a cashier can enter when you make your purchase. Wireless technology has gotten to a point where they can push a coupon to your device while in the aisle.

Retailers are quickly developing m-commerce and social media based marketing efforts to connect to consumers. These new tools allow a more targeted approach to reach their consumers and to keep them informed of products and offer special discounts. In many cases a consumer will do their research before going to the bricks and mortar stores as shopping is still a physical experience for many. It is imperative for retailers who embrace the new technology to still continue to offer the old fashioned service of answering the telephone. All this new technology drives the consumer to just burp out an email asking for information and the usual response is “Thanks we will answer in 48 hours”. In this age of instant information in your hand while in the store or on your desk, the shopper is a walk away or click away of taking their business elsewhere if poor customer service is experienced. The advantage today is retailers are able to track the progress of these new campaigns in a better fashion and taking the data to offer a better customer experience.

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