With TurnTo Social Merchandising, stores can tell shoppers which of their friends (from Facebook and their email address books) are also customers. That enables shoppers to reach out to get the most trusted advice of all – advice from friends.
Even when shoppers don’t bother to reach out, just seeing that friends have bought from a store where they are thinking of buying provides a social validation that increases the likelihood of purchase. And seeing what those friends have bought encourages consideration of more items, which leads to impulse purchase and higher average order values.
When direct friend matches can’t be found (which sometimes happens on smaller stores or for shoppers with small digital friend networks), Social Merchandising still presents a range of products with an attractive social wrapper – faces, names, and comments by people who recently purchased. This, too, provides a degree of social validation by giving an online store the same sort of buzz that a crowded retail store has. (Even online, people are less likely to buy at an empty store.)
The user experience is simple. A shopper on your site sees a button that says “Need ideas? See what friends bought!” (Or anything else – you customize this.) With a few clicks, the shopper connects to their Facebook profile or email account. The system compares this list of contacts to the list of your customers and shows the user any matches found. The system also looks for friends-of-friends and zip-code matches.
Of course, TurnTo rigorously preserves the privacy of your customers. The system always checks to see if a match has opted-in to being shown as a reference (through the Purchase Sharing tool). If yes, the shopper sees the friend’s name. If no, the friend is identified only as “a friend”, and the system offers to broker a connection if the shopper wants it. That enables you to make your entire customer base available as friend-references from the first day you turn on the system.
Part of the magic of Social Merchandising is that it addresses sales challenges faced by such a broad range of retailers:
|Nature of What You Sell||Challenges||How TurnTo Helps|
|Big ticket /
|Sales cycles are long. Your customers do their research, visiting all your competitors. How do you accelerate purchase? How do you ensure the buyer chooses you?||Knowledge that friends also bought from you increases confidence, accelerates purchase, makes you the default choice. Prospects that ask friends about you build mental commitment, are far more likely to choose you.|
|Widely available items||Your customers have lots of choices and one looks as good as then next. How do you create preference and loyalty? How do you compete on something other than price?||Given no other reason to pick one store or product over another, shoppers will follow their friends. Even with a price difference, shoppers will often repeat their friends’ choices.|
|Low-priced items||The barrier to additional purchases is low. How do you encourage impulse buying and raise your AOV?||Seeing what a friend bought induces consideration and desire.|
|Perceived as risky||The customer doesn’t know your brand. Your product category is perceived to have issues with quality or forgery. You provide a “you have to experience it to get it” service. How do create trust, induce trial?||Seeing that a friend has purchased from you increases trust and overcomes reluctance to buy. Assumption that “they must have done their research”. Your willingness to make friend-references available conveys your confidence in your offering.|
|Infrequent repeat purchase, low brand engagement||Customers forget about you in between purchases and begin each cycle at Google. How do you increase direct navigation, loyalty, and repeat purchase rates?||Creating a connection in the customer’s mind between your store and their friends improves brand recall, positive association, and the feeling of community membership. That increases loyalty and the likelihood of direct navigation.|