Retail

Neiman Marcus Looks To Associates For Social Media Commerce

Fashion Social Media Shopping

In an effort to drive sales, a luxury department store chain is connecting customers with their sales associates through personal social media accounts, The New York Post reported.

At the National Retail Federation (NRF) show last week, Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Karen Katz said that her 4,500 associates are generating sales for the company via their personal Instagram and Snapchat accounts. Katz said the company encourages the practice because “customers who are attached to a sales associate spend more.”

To help facilitate communications with customers, each associate receives a company-issued iPhone and the iSell mobile app. Associates post fashion advice — like how to dress up jeans — and text updates about new items that have arrived in-store. “We are trying to bring a more human touch to how [our associates] act online,” Katz said.

The practice comes as consumers are increasingly favoring social media as a means for exposure to fashion brands and new styles.

“A huge portion of discovery of new products is now happening on Instagram and Pinterest for women,” said Jennifer Hyman, co-founder of Rent the Runway, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Pinterest and Instagram serve as virtual malls or virtual cataloging for every woman across the globe.” And, through a mobile app called Spring, fashion shoppers can discover new brands, as well as manage the packaging and shipping of their items.

Neiman Marcus’ associates may face competition from fashion chatbots. Mode.ai Founder Eitan Sharon and his team have used artificial intelligence to build a chatbot, integrated with Facebook Messenger, which allows consumers to make purchases directly through the social media site’s chat function.

Consumers send messages to mode.ai’s Facebook Messenger account, which sells clothing online, or to retailers with which mode.ai has partnered. Then, the chatbot learns about their style preferences before allowing consumers to make a purchase directly inside the chat.

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