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Social Connections

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From its humble beginnings in 1980, PacSun has worked hard to bring its California lifestyle merchandise to every state in the union, with some 650 stores presenting its branded and proprietary casual apparel, accessories and footwear for teens and young adults.

When the retailer wanted to expand its “Golden State of Mind” message to its customers, the company knew where to connect with them: via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and their smartphones.

After all, what’s the sense of having a flash sale if you can’t reach your customers in a flash? How about new merchandise, exclusive offers, online and in-store promotions? Tick Tock! And why not create contests and special events to keep those customers coming back again and again?

PacSun was able to create those links to customers with a social commerce solution from Revionics, which specializes in optimization to ensure retailers have the right products, pricing, promotions, placements and space allocations. This solution comes as a result of Revionics’ recent acquisition of SkuLoop, a provider of social commerce-driven promotions.

PacSun promoted its new spring styles in a big way, with a social marketing campaign that identified customers and delivered rewards with the goal of converting loyalty into sales across a multi-channel shopping experience — online, in-store, social and mobile.

Key elements of the campaign included a “Spring Style Wish List,” which used a custom-built Facebook application to introduce new spring styles to customers — encouraging interaction, engagement and sharing; identifying the most loyal advocates and influential fans; and creating a baseline for future promotions.

In addition to generating 25,000 visitors and stimulating the creation of 2,500 wish lists, top selling products were identified and highlighted on the retailer’s website. Ninety percent of participating fans and advocates shopped from their desktop and more than one in 10 used a mobile device to shop PacSun.

Commenting on results for fiscal 2012, which were announced in March, president and CEO Gary H. Schoenfeld said that PacSun had a “very solid year” with important progress in several key facets, reporting “positive sales comps and better margins” in all four quarters for the first time since 2007.

“Looking ahead to this year our key priorities remain working closely with our key brands, attracting new customers and continuing to elevate both our in-store and on-line experience,” he said.

Connecting with customers
“The beauty of our social commerce program is that retail clients can crawl, walk or run,” says Michelle Crames, Revionics vice president of social commerce solutions.

Revionics Social Commerce capabilities are powerful because they “let social commerce correlate to the individual product, giving shoppers an opportunity to interact and reveal preferences even before making a purchase and to identify greatest advocates,” she says.

Retailers “are starting to migrate more and more to make commerce social vs. social commerce,” says Crames, the founder and former CEO of SkuLoop. “They can start by putting programs in place to become more educated about their shoppers, and then spread those concentric circles with more programs and projects. The more they use the platform, the more value they will gain.”

With many social commerce companies focusing on engagement metrics, “Revionics focuses on how retailers can serve their customers so well that they will want to spread that word to their friends. And then we use those metrics to drive sales,” she notes.

The nitty-gritty connection between Revionics’ social platform and retailers’ customers often begins with Facebook, where buttons alongside the purely social exchanges offer users the ability to “like” or “unlike.”

“We put buttons on their touchpoints and set up rewards — sweepstakes or better access to customized events,” Crames says. “The consumer is also giving permission to publish information back to their Facebook page, and their friends are getting these offers. We can track their reactions and measure how many friends they influenced.”

PacSun’s sunny outlook
PacSun’s website is full of invitations. “Want to keep up with all things Kendall & Kylie?” it asks. E-mail sign ups are rewarded with “exclusive offers, early access to sales & more!” PacSun has its own blog with content filtered by topic, ranging from products, brands and fashion to music and art. It’s loaded with pictures of attractive young people having fun in the California sun in their PacSun apparel. Visitors are advised to “tag your Instagrams and Tweets with PacSun’s hashtag” to be posted live on the blog.

With so many points of contact available for retailers to present to customers, Crames cautions about the importance of “monitoring and understanding.”

“Customers are much less patient,” she says. “They want things that are relevant. A skier will tune out a snowboarding offer. It starts with serving the customer really well, and making the social commerce fun and exciting.”

Similarly, programs directed toward mobile communications must also be relevant. “The trick with mobile is not push, but how to get consumers to pull. Our platform lets retailers build programs that are created just once, but they have to provide an incentive to engage with customers with benefits and rewards.”

The commodity called “customer loyalty” is still very valuable, but Crames says the definition is changing dramatically. “With smartphones, your competitor is just one click away, so retailers have to earn loyalty. ... with social commerce we can capture what people buy, why they bought and why they didn’t. We listen to the shopper and to those metrics, and we want to know how many people they are bringing into that conversation.”

Social’s changing demographics
The “why they didn’t buy” aspect of social commerce is significant. Revionics “can track customers’ actions or reactions to a preference loaded on a card in a store, and follow through to see if they actually bought that preference off line,” Crames says. “Over time, retailers can use additional discounts and exclusive access as a way to learn who their advocates are and what is important to them.”

Despite the perception that social media skews strongly toward a younger demographic, the times are changing: According to a 2012 survey by Socialbakers, there are more 40-year-olds on Facebook than teenagers, and more senior citizens than youngsters ages 13 to 15. Users age 18 to 34 account for nearly half (47 percent) of those on Facebook.

Details about Revionics Social Commerce platform’s purchase price and the duration of installation are fairly straightforward, especially in the return on investment.

“Our solution is offered on a SaaS model that allows a retailer to pay as they grow their use,” Crames says. “Our customers typically see a 10-times ROI. The time to implementation is typically measured in a few weeks and doesn’t require development on the retailer’s side to get it up and running.”