The Power of `like’


Dean McCauley

There is no doubting the significant changes taking place in retail right now. Everybody has an opinion on what we should and shouldn’t do going forward, whether it’s innovate our in-store interiors with visually arresting and conversation-starting visual merchandising, training staff in the traditional practise of customer service, or incorporating an online component to complement your bricks and mortar boutique.

One of the interesting developments is the dramatic increase of bricks and mortar retailers selling via Facebook pages. The instant connection with customers is invaluable, creating and holding a conversation with people outside your store’s immediate network, and encouraging that `in-store change room’ style interaction between friends in an online environment. It’s this power of the `like’ that increases the desire for a product, just like girls or guys would interact in-store. Seeing that their friends `like’ it is a sign of approval among their peers because they respect their opinion.

Fashion Exposed Online spoke with popular Queensland boutique,Adrenalin, who stock luxury labels such as Willow, Camilla & Marc and Zimmermann, and have become a Facebook success story by treating it `like a great big group of VIP customers’. Director, Dean McCauley, who is about to celebrate the stores’ 14th birthday, has seen the retail landscape change dramatically over the years, but agrees the current environment is one of the most challenging.

“Retailing is such a tough game at the moment and retailers can not afford to sit back and wait for customers to walk through the door,” says Dean. “Customers are not spending as much any more and are definitely thinking more and more about what and how much they spend. So it’s up to us to excite and educate our clients to look amazing and keep returning.”

As a bricks and mortar retailer for 14 years how has the retail industry changed? What are the major differences to owning a store now as to when you first started?

The retail industry and climate has changed significantly. We are finding that more than ever we need to be on our game. There is so much more competition not only with more bricks and mortar stores, but more and more online store are popping up all of the time. No longer can you just open an amazing store with amazing range of labels and sit back and wait for the customer to find you. You have to be on the front foot with both marketing and social networking platforms to spread the word fast. Otherwise you will not survive in this highly competitive business. The consumer is king and they have so much more choice and accessibility to any items or labels than ever before.

bronzeThere is now a huge element of shoppers buying online You don’t have an e-store attached to your boutique yet, are you going to open one soon? why or why not?

This is something we are working on. Yes at this stage we don’t have an on-line store but we have been watching this whole business grow and it’s definitely something we will look to establish very soon. We feel it’s just another avenue to reach our clients.

There is now a growing trend among retailers to use Facebook as a means of selling their in-store collections – you are a very active Facebook user with Adrena Lin business page, how successful has this been for you? why?

Our Facebook has been very active for sometime. This has now been our strongest and most successful form of marketing we have ever done. Our Facebook is our key marketing tool to reach our customer instantly. Now that social networking is part of everyones daily ritual we have found that it works so successfully as our clients can always keep up to date with pics and news with what’s happening at Adrenalin. We have both a fan page and profile page yet our profile page seems to be working so much better as it’s seems more personal and our friends are in touch daily asking questions and waiting with bated breath what’s new today!

Are they different customers? can you define the difference? do you cater to them differently too?

We find a mix of both. We have regular clients that use our Facebook to keep in touch with us with regular questions about new stock and deliveries. We also find we are capturing more and more friends of friends as they see that they are constantly in communications with us and they want to be part of this action. To us, we treat our Facebook like a great big group of VIP customers. We ensure we are responding instantly when anyone asks a questions and often tagging vip clients with new deliveries.

ksubiHow different is selling on Facebook to in-store? do some of the same rules apply? and do your customers expect the same service? What percentage of your sales are online compared to in-store?

It’s hard to put a percentage on this as it changes so frequently but definitely sales from our Facebook is growing as a huge rate. I don’t know what we did without this form of marketing… it’s now a massive part of our business. All the same rules apply exactly the same specialised exceptional service and we try to keep it very personal like your having the same one on one experience within our boutique.

Has it been a challenge to service both the store and Facebook page as it gains popularity? or do they work cohesively together?

No this has not been a problem but it definitely keeps me busy and keeps me on my toes. I have my Facebook linked to my mobile so as soon as anyone comments on a picture or post then I’m immediately alerted that a message or comment has been made. I make sure I respond as soon as I can. A few times we have had the situation that when we post a picture of a new delivery that hit’s the store sometimes it can be a fight on who gets the size first, the Facebooker or the in-store customer. You have to be quick!

Why do you think Facebook is a successful selling tool for retailers?

It’s instant! They do not need to be in your store or in your suburb it’s instant and everywhere. We have Facebook clients throughout other states they can buy just as fast as our clients who can visit our store frequently. We can have it in the post the same day then they can receive their purchase the next day.

Do you think the `like’ tool increases the desire for a product, just like girls would interact in the changeroom, seeing that their friends `like’ it is a sign of approval among their peers? because they respect their opinion?

zimmermannYes…definitely it’s a bit like your stamp of approval. We monitor our likes very closely. This gives us a greater indication of the type of customer who is utilising our Facebook so this helps us decide what we buy and what we promote on our Facebook page.

When you post a new pair of shoes or clothing range that has just dropped in-store, what is the response you get? Do you often sell out before you’ve even had a chance to display them in-store?

Yes this can often be the case. We always put our garments on the shop floor first but at as soon as we can we are posting pics of what has arrived.

Do you pre-sell much of your range via Facebook?

I’m not a fan of pre-selling or taking the money for items that have not arrived yet. As so many things can happen beyond our control that we don’t receive what we think we are getting. The last thing we want to do is disappoint our clients. Of course we will do it if a client is so passionate about a garment and is afraid unless they prepay they will miss out. We take a wait list approach and first on the list get the first option unless it has been pre-paid for.

Do you think you will ever set up a shopping cart within Facebook?

Maybe one day. I’m not fully informed on how it all works yet but definitely something I will be looking into further down the track.

All images sourced from the Adrena Lin Facebook page.

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