Social Media and the Changing Retail Landscape: Q&A with NRF’s Margaret Case Little

The National Retail Federation Convention & Expo kicked off this week, and with it, conversations about modern retail and what it will take to bring the industry into a new world populated by connected consumers.

You already know that JDA Software and RedPrairie have joined forces to create a new industry leader in global supply chain management, offering a broad range of planning, execution, collaboration and e-commerce solutions to help retailers manage their supply chains – from raw materials to finished products and into the hands of consumers. Consumers are more connected than ever, and as a result, they demand greater product variety and customization, unforgettable retail experiences, increased brand engagement and faster delivery.

To talk about this new breed of connected consumers, we reached out to NRF’s Margaret Case Little, senior director, communications and public affairs. Margaret oversees digital media strategy for NRF and as such, has firsthand experience with the social media channels that are changing the retail landscape. We caught up with Margaret before NRF and here is what she had to say:

What are some of the most significant ways in which social media has empowered consumers?

Shopping really has become a social experience these days. One of the most impactful ways we’ve seen social affect the buying process is by increased word-of-mouth marketing. Shoppers are becoming brand advocates by sharing their favorite products through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more, opening up the level of reach and engagement for brands that cultivate their social customer relationships.

What is one way in which retailers can integrate digital into their overall strategy? Can it be as simple as providing customer service via a Twitter account? Or does it have to be as sophisticated as launching a mobile app to work with interactive in-store displays?

It can be simple. For brands just jumping into the space, start small and pick the social channel that fits with your audience. For example, don’t waste valuable time curating on Pinterest if your target demographic isn’t likely to play in the space. Be smart about where you start and be sure to tailor your content and engagement strategy to your audience.

What are some of the key trends you think will emerge from this year’s National Retail Federation Convention & EXPO?

I’m excited that we have quite a variety of retailers, large and small, sharing the successes they have found through social engagement. I expect that the biggest trend in social will be localization and how it relates to consumer engagement through mobile, geo-targeting, and specialized deals or content.  You can find quite a few sessions on the topic here.

We’d love to hear how social media is changing your retail experience. What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities for retailers in their efforts to align to the new demands of their connected customers?

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