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Social Machines: How to Develop Connected Products That Change Customers' Lives by Peter Semmelhack

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Chapter 17

Retail

There is now a whole new, emerging category of retailing called social retail. It includes a number of different areas, but in essence, you can summarize its arrival as a way for brick-and-mortar retailers to compete with Amazon. If you are a retailer of any kind, it’s virtually impossible not to feel the competitive pressures posed by the online giant and those like it. I think most of us are already guilty of a behavior so prevalent it’s received its own buzzword: showrooming. This is the name of the activity you engage in when you go into a brick-and-mortar retailer to check out in person a product you’re interested in but then actually buy it online—while you’re still in the store! Talk about a retail nightmare. You get all the cost but none of the revenue. It sort of sounds like it should be illegal.

The whole point of social retail is to take advantage of something no online retailer can touch: your physical presence. There isn’t anything new about that. Retailers have always understood the importance of this fact. The whole science and practice of merchandising is based on this simple idea: Take advantage of the fact the customer is in the store—right now! What is new about social retail is the online component. Social networking and social media have given retailers the ability to reach customers in new ways. More important, though, these same tools have given customers the ability to spread the word of great retail experiences instantly. This ability, ...

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