Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Social Media @ Work!

I would love to just lift photo #22 from this series and put it on my blog, but I have a feeling that borrowing an official White House photo is a little different from finding and posting random pictures of Jonathan Rhys Meyers....

Anyway, please have a look. This is the true definition of a working document. This is how it all happens.

I love the different series of photos they post in slide shows on whitehouse.gov because they are so well lit- I want to know what photoshop techniques they use to get everything look so... warm. Beautiful. One day I will get a really good camera and try out some amazing photography of my own.... I follow @PressSec and @WhiteHouse on Twitter because you just never know what interesting stuff is going to get posted.

This whole administration feels so accessible compared to those in the past. I think it is cool that whitehouse.gov is updated daily, that the Press Secretary and the White House are on Twitter all the time, and that the president has a Blackberry. But I also struggle with the fact that everything is so transparent. I've always felt like the president needs to be a little removed from things so that he garners the respect he deserves and so that he has the time (or the perception of having time) to get his work done. The presidency doesn't feel like a priority if everybody's tweeting and facebooking and blogging their lives away.

But this is also how things work here in the 21st century, and to not keep up would just be archaic. Social media is how we get our information. Last week I tweeted this article about social media and retail apparel, which was kind of long but really fascinating.

To sum it all up- The Wet Seal (teenybopper clothing store for those of you who don't have teenage daughters or haven't been to a mall in the past 20 years) has figured out how to use social media to help shoppers (thereby creating more sales). And I'm not just talking fanpages and sales updates on Facebook- that part is easy. Starting in 2008 they went bigger. Consumers can post reviews of outfits and put together virtual outfits via the store's website. The company itself has also put together outfits online. When a shopper enters a store and selects a garment, she can scan the tag's barcode into a kiosk. That kiosk will kick back consumer- and retailer- generated outfits that use that particular garment, using inventory control systems to only show what is actually in stock in that particular location. Teenagers don't do as much online shopping as adults because they (hopefully) don't have credit cards yet, and the kiosk is in place because while teenagers have cellphone plans, internet plans are not as common (YET). But I can see higher end stores geared toward adult consumers doing this using SmartPhone applications instead and skipping the kiosk altogether.

Why am I talking about this? Because I work in the business world, and here's the sentence that caught my eye:

The ROI from the kiosks has been huge, says Jon Kubo [Wet Seal's CIO]. "I was in a store just last week and a woman was buying a top for $20. I brought her over to the kiosk, we scanned the price ticket and brought up five outfits that contained that top. She went from a $20 purchase to a $105 purchase in just a few minutes," he says.

Mark my words, this is the future of shopping. I see this starting in the middle teirs of fashion brands and then working itself up to higher-end retail such as Nordstrom, and down to lower end big-box retailers- Walmart and Target will be all over this technology. Walmart already has some of the best inventory tracking and logistics in the world- tapping into their systems to see what is in a store should be a piece of cake for them. the technology exists, it just has to be put to good use.

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