This post is part two of my “What is the future of Social Media” series. I am creating and curating some predictions around where I believe social media could change the way we do business. Each article will focus on a specific industry sector.

You can find part one which discusses The future of Social Media in television here

This is a collection of ideas drawn from inspirations I have had over the last few months including a video from corning glass and an idea from C&A Brasil.  I have tried to take my knowledge of the technology, social media and evolve these concepts.

Find your most influential customers

Nina who is 21 and loves shopping, walks in to her local high street fashion shop (New look, Top Shop, Forever 21 etc). She hunts around the store and finds a complete outfit which goes together really well. A lovely dress, killer pair of heels and bag to match. She buys the outfit and on her receipt their is a unique QR code. She scans the QR code and which shares the outfit she has bought to her Facebook wall and to a central Facebook brand page for the store. Once she has shared the outfit she bought, her friends and other customers can “like” the outfit. The outfit that gets the most likes goes into a leader board. The outfit with the most likes per week or month could get rewards/prizes/incentives. Over time, the store would build up a league of the most stylish and influential customers. These are the people who can become your brand ambassadors or super fans. The store could identify these keys influencers and perhaps offer them free clothes because they know they will talk about them online. They could be invited to your fashion show launch events for each new range or be brought in to give feedback on possible trends for the coming seasons. The gamification of shopping could create customers who want to share the latest trends first so will be happy to sign up for alerts.  That new item they received an alert about might inspire them to put forward a new outfit for rating. The customer has an incentive to share the store’s new look. More people see that new dress Nina has just bought. More people will visit the stores which in turn increases sales.

The competitive element of the way the system works would encourage the desired action of consumers to benefit both the consumer and the store.

Crown sourced recommendations or recommendations from your friends

When you have the most liked outfits, you could use this insight to help drive cross sell opportunities. For example:

“1,000 people who bought this dress also bought these shoes to go with it. We have them in stock in the right colour and in your size”

It would not be perceived as the store trying to sell you something else but as a personal recommendation. How about if on your receipt it says

“Thanks for buying this dress Sarah. Your friend Nina bought the same dress and she thinks these shoes would go really well with the dress. We have one pair left in stock in this store today in your size and if you buy them today here is a 20% off voucher thanks to Nina”

If Sarah does buy the dress then why not send Nina some extra points to help her get to the top of the stylist leader board. You could even send her a gift voucher thanking her for her recommendation.

In this fashion retail example, having a friend that has the same dress could be perceived as a bad thing i.e. two of you turning up with the same outfit on the same night. You could turn it around and inform Sarah that Nina has the same dress in the same colour so maybe you might like to choose a different colour or style. If Sarah still decided to buy the dress at least she would know to check with Nina before she plans what to wear on Saturday night! Using Facebook data a fashion store app could know when Sarah and Nina are both going out together and if they bought the same outfit send them a notification so they can check they are not wearing the same outfit.

The recommendation model could work in a non fashion store such as a pharmacy or a music shop:  a recommendation for a specific brand of moisturiser or the music your friends are listening to. It could even work with the new Google glasses to show you who and how many people like each product you are looking at in store.

Personalised shopping experience

Nina walks into another store: they know who she is and the store offers her a personal greeting. “Good afternoon Miss Lewis, we haven’t seen you for a while, how are you?” If all the clothes in the store had a chip in the label, imagine the possibilities. As you pick up an item the changing room would know what you have taken in. It would be able to bring up information  such as where the garment was made, who it was designed by or a story behind the collection. It could show you the magazine features and any celebrities that have been spotted wearing the garment. It could show you if any of your friends liked or have bought that item.

It could suggest other items which would go well with the trousers you are trying on. Imagine you are trying on the trousers and up pops an augmented reality view of how you look in the complete outfit including matching shoes and jacket.  You look at the compete outfit and think it looks good so you press a button and the assistant hands you the items to complete the look.

The changing room shares a picture of you trying the outfit on in the store to your chosen social networks. In real time your friends reply are shown on the display. “It looks great,” they say. So you buy the outfit.

Real life social sharing

In another shop Nina sees an item of clothing she likes but can not afford to buy it till pay day. Imagine you could scan the item bar code and “like” the item on Facebook. This would show your friends how good you are at finding great fashion and it would help the company promote that item.

What if Nina had a specific friend she thought would really like the item she found. She could always take a photo and message it to them but that probably won’t show the item in the best light. How about if Nina scanned the bar code on the label and:

Posted the item directly to her friend’s Facebook wall including a link to the web page for that item


Sends her friend an illustration of how they would look wearing that item

If Nina could super impose the garment onto a virtual replica of her friend, do you think it would make her friend more likely to buy the item?


For retail stores to survive in the age of internet shopping where everything is usually cheaper and more convenient to order, retails outlets have to go the extra mile to provide a better customer experience. These are just a few of the ways social data can be used to improve the customer experience for somebody going into a retail store.

Your turn

Do you feel as a customer you would like this level of personalisation?

If a store gave you a personal service that you couldn’t get online, do you feel it would be make you more likely to spend money in that store rather than on the web?

Why complain using social media?

Why should a new employee use social media?

Join the conversation


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