Womenswear retailers New Look and Net-a-Porter.com have this week launched new platforms and tools for making customers' shopping more interactive, in a bid to boost sales.
There is an emerging trend where brands are building on their customer engagements through social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, and using analytics to help manipulate the interaction to drive brand loyalty and higher sales.
Accenture, for example, has developed a tool that predicts the optimum ways for companies to engage with their customers through Facebook.
New Look has worked with EMC's consulting division to develop a cloud-based online environment that brings together all of New Look's customers engaging with the brand across multiple social media platforms. EMC partnered with Acquia to build the site using open source technology Drupal.
Called 'New Look Daily' the online hub is designed to drive brand awareness. New Look wanted to build on its success on Facebook, where it has seen a 700 percent growth in 'likes', to just under a million, over the past 12 months, but also to include customers not on Facebook.
New Look Daily integrates existing online customer communities with rich content and the retailer's e-commerce platform. It is driven by user-generated content, for example, customers can create, share and purchase entire outfits from New Look's product catalogue on the site using virtual outfit builder software from Schway.
Separately, online luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter.com has launched in-house developed software that allows customers to view anonymous browsing and shopping activity of other users on the site.
Net-a-Porter Live allows customers to see what other users are adding to their wish lists and shopping bags, as well as what they are sharing with their friends. The system captures and records users' IP addresses to give a city-level breakdown of activity, and the data can be delivered to all types of devices, from desktops to iPads.
The retailer believes that the new shopping experience will inspire customers to make purchases based on what they see other people doing.
"Visitors to our offices have always been drawn to our screens showing real-time purchases, and Net-a-Porter Live is essentially a modified version of this experience.
"While allowing our customers to see what items are being placed on wish lists and in shopping carts around the world, we are also giving them the ability to interact on a global scale. Seeing which items are being selected by other customers creates an excitement around certain products, and further to that, we expect that offering the ability to share these choices with others will turn into a powerful selling tool that will be unleashed worldwide," said Natalie Massenet, Net-a-Porter's chairman and founder.
Net-a-Porter Live is part of the company's plans to building on existing social channels to develop its own social network. It already has a social hub called 'Fashion Fix', which brings together all its interactions on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr.