In practical terms, social merchandising models in online environments implement effective word-of-mouth communications in form of user-generated content, which is more widely known as customer ratings and reviews. Retailers exploring this model not only make use of customers’ opinions and perceptions to leverage sales, but also to connect with customers’ social networks. This allows retailers to project their products to a wider audience and, furthermore, to inform potential customers on which of their social network contacts are also customers.
The well-known online retailer Amazon.com has long ago integrated customer ratings and reviews into its online model. In the fashion sector, recent innovations in social merchandising models draw on both the social and the media power of the internet to project products to customers’ social networks. In short, one can say that social merchandising is also going visual.
Launched in April 2011, the company Motilo is an online fashion retailer which enables customers to shop together in real time using image functionalities. The company’s members are able to create looks by combining different items in the shop and share them with their social networks.
The company LazyLazy is a virtual shopping centre where different brands have their own webshop environment with core shopping functionalities and resources available. Their shop platform includes an online application termed Webcam Social Shopper by its developer Zugara.
Interestingly, virtual mirrors (or their interactive or magic mirrors variations) are also being adopted in brick-and-mortar contexts, enabling social merchandising capabilities in conventional fashion operations. In an initiative to engage with young customers in Facebook, the company Diesel has not limited itself to just opening a Diesel shop on Facebook, they also brought Facebook connectivity to in-store points. The idea was to turn customers into Diesel models with the support of cameras specially installed in special mirrors placed in a particular section of fitting room areas so that customers could easily share with their social contacts images of the items they were trying.