How to marry e-commerce and social media experiences

Learning from social, audience participation in the form of on-site personalisation is already happening. Digitally agile brands such as Ganni have been trialling interactivity as a brand experience with its wholesale buyers. Ganni’s virtual showroom Gannispace, built by Dept for Ganni in just six weeks during the pandemic, puts storytelling at the heart of the buying process.

Fashion retail buyers can collage their own personalised “Ganni girl” outfits on dolls, and create wish lists made up of a multitude of visual assets, styled to their liking. Buyers can then order based on their creations.

Ganni CEO Andrea Baldo is excited for how the concept can develop in the future. “We suddenly have way more opportunities for staging the collection. It’s been such a success that we’ll be creating a 2:0 version next season and also [using] some of its features within our e-commerce stores.”

Purpose-led commerce builds community

Nina Hajikhanian, EMEA e-commerce director of Patagonia refers to the brand’s e-commerce store as “online real estate”. This is the term that defines the decisions when justifying what literally takes up space on its digital flagship. Rather than focusing on the act of selling clothes, Hajikhanian considers “solution oriented activism” to be a top priority for the brand’s e-commerce platform. One vehicle for that is Patagonia Action Works, a hub built into the website where global visitors can sign up to partake in skilled volunteering opportunities and community driven local events.

Whether it’s volunteering, being taught how to repair your own clothing or competing in a hashtag challenge on Tiktok, audience participation and challenge-style gamification creates stickiness, emotional resonance and, in turn, a connection to community.

Avoid “the disappointment switch”

E-commerce sites benefit directly from social media traffic, therefore, the e-commerce experience must be aligned with the engaging social media campaigns customers have just seen. Otherwise, those who came expecting rich, entertaining content typical to social media, may be left disappointed when continuing on to the e-commerce site.

Community concepts such as the Ganni girls prevent this from happening. Whether sales assistants, or the customers themselves, they exist in real life but are personalisation vehicles that digitally drive audiences cross-platform from social to commerce. Looks that appear on Ganni’s Instagram stories and live videos often lead to customers to direct message the brand afterwards to ask where on the site they can find their full look. Similarly, emails to customers from brick-and-mortar store managers showing the team in their favourite pieces from the new collection get a 50% open rate. “We have many customers calling in-store to say ‘I love what you are wearing’. It’s real people. It’s not a campaign.”