The age of the brick-and-mortar store isn’t quite dead, despite what some people would have you believe, but it’s certainly true that e-commerce (or digital commerce) has become an everyday, well-accepted practice. Buying items online today simply isn’t a big deal; everyone does it and nearly all companies offer it. For this reason, it can be difficult to pinpoint companies that are taking a different tack – those that separate themselves from the crowd. But some do. Here are three big brands that have managed to make a splash through social media and digital commerce.
If you visit the Ray-Ban website, it will come as little surprise that you can find sunglasses online. What might surprise you, however, is what else can be found on Ray-Ban’s website. The company has built itself into a lifestyle brand as much as a maker of sunglasses. You can download mixtapes featuring music from popular and up-and-coming artists, watch short films and documentaries, participate in community programs, and even book an eye exam should you live in or around New York City. The website is a destination featuring multimedia and engaging content. Oh right, there’s also sunglasses!
Needless to say, purchasing sunglasses online is made simple through the site’s checkout process, and you can create a wish list should you happen to lack the funds to buy a pair of the company’s better-known designs, such as the Aviator and Wayfarer. The website also makes it incredibly easy to customize a pair of sunglasses to suit your specific tastes and needs. There are 15 styles of frames, 85 lenses, 225 colors, and you can even engrave a personal message. In other words, the possibilities are literally endless. There is even an app that allows you to virtually try on any pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses. And to truly set itself apart from brick-and-mortar stores, there are online-exclusive sunglasses as well.
The dog and cat owners reading this are likely already acquainted with Chewy.com. The online retailer is a trusted and popular outlet in the pet supply marketplace. What sets Chewy apart from the competition (and what has enabled Chewy.com to grow rapidly since its founding in 2011) is its automatic delivery of consumable pet products, like dog food and cat litter. Buy an item once, and the company will deliver it to your doorstep automatically until you tell it to stop. For many pet owners, this is a lifesaver.
The site itself also makes consumer purchases easy. The company offers free 1-2 day shipping on purchases over $49 (a couple of 30lb dog food bags gets you there quickly!) and has an intuitive shopping experience. As an exclusive online retailer, Chewy has leveraged digital design, online marketing, and social media to spread the word on its products and services. When it comes to social, the company has a series of humorous yet informative videos on various topics related to pet ownership. Videos that of course feature the Internet’s favorite things: dogs and cats! By creating an e-commerce platform that provides a unique solution, and leveraging online platforms for customer outreach, Chewy.com has become a major player in a major industry.
A staple of college students everywhere, a favorite among fans of Scandinavian design, and a purveyor of affordable (sometimes incredibly so) housewares, IKEA is a household name not just in its native Sweden, but worldwide. IKEA calls home to countries like Japan, China, Australia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iceland, and even the tiny island of Cyprus. With such a large reach, it can be fairly difficult to find an audience. How can you find an audience when the arena is everywhere? To do so, a company must localize while working within the constraints of the global economy. And so IKEA does just that, creating unique social media accounts for each of its markets.
In the United States, for example, IKEA has Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. On Instagram, the U.S. account alone has nearly a million followers. On Twitter, nearly 400,000. While the company’s Pinterest account adds an additional 400,000 followers. This localized-global approach allows the company to leverage its customers on a country-by-country basis for advertising, branding, self-promotion, and customer outreach. It also allows different markets to manage their own marketing initiatives. After all, what works in New York won’t necessarily work in Los Angeles. This approach has enabled IKEA to develop a tremendously robust digital presence that still manages to feel personal.
Digital Isn’t Going Away
These companies are hardly the only businesses finding success online. They’re highlighted here because they illustrate how companies can leverage social media and e-commerce in creative ways. Each approaches the online experience using different methods, but all share a common trait; that being a commitment to creating an online experience that is rewarding, personal, and helpful. These companies are saying “Online doesn’t have to be disconnected and impersonal.” And it seems to be working.
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