Social Media - Changing the way we shop.

So today is the first day of December and a week since Americans celebrated Thanksgiving Day. There is no other time during the year that so many people’s minds turn to shopping and finding that perfect gift for that special someone. I think it is somewhat kismet I attended an event this week that previewed how companies will interact with consumers in the very near future.

Unless you are a Hobbit, you know that the internet has significantly changed the way many people shop and buy. A Pew research report (Click Here for Report) from last year showed that on average, 58% of Americans perform online research before buying. This is a vast change from the days when I was a kid and would wait excitedly for the Sears catalog to show up in the mail so I could circle my favorite toys and give it to my parents. However, if you think the changes we have seen have been dramatic, just wait: the future holds changes that are even more dramatic.

Yesterday I attended a social media conference event held in NYC. What I saw was a glimpse into the future of commerce: how individuals will shop and how companies will interact with consumers. Right now most research by consumers is one sided - they search and read information on the products they want to buy. In the future, companies will be so plugged into internet searches and social media that they will be able to directly interact with consumers not only when they enter the store to buy, but when they are most open to product information. It is truly a cataclysmic change in the way we will shop and buy.

With any new technology and platforms, there will be challenges and hurdles to overcome. However, make no mistake, this change is coming, and there is nothing companies in the retail consumer market can do to stop it from happening. Therefore, we must learn all we can about this new technology, adapt to it, and learn how to use this new power to improve our business and relationship with our customers. Personally, I see this as a good thing, especially for an industry like ours that is very technical in nature.

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