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Retailers Use Facebook Live to Connect with Customers

Posted by Ian McCue, Content Manager

At first glance, Hammitt and Becker Safety and Supply may seem to have little in common. They are brands with distinct audiences in different industries with dissimilar business models.

But the two businesses share a common goal: deliver innovative experiences to connect with shoppers in the modern world of retail. By executing on these outside-the-box ideas, each found success and cultivated a loyal following.

Hammitt, a designer of high-end handbags and accessories, did not sell online until about two years ago. The 10-year-old company first built a customer base by hosting private parties in Southern California, which grew into bigger events over time. As the business evolved, it launched an ecommerce web store and partnered with retailers.

CEO Tony Drockton found a way to build a bridge between the online and offline channels because both held tremendous value. Earlier this year, Drockton held a 48-hour pre-sale for a new line of bags and announced it on Facebook Live. As part of the promotion, shoppers could pick up their purchases at a beach party that weekend featuring food, drinks and live music while also raising money for charity. Once word was out, social influencers who partner with Hammitt posted about the sale to spread the message and drum up excitement.

The “beach bash” was a roaring success. Several hundred people showed up and the company raised $30,000 for a local educational foundation. Hammitt livestreamed parts of the event and pushed out fundraising updates on social media. The CEO’s creativity turned a standard product release into an opportunity to transform casual customers into brand loyalists.

“We’re in an era today where it’s exceedingly difficult to control the customer experience with the different channels and countless factors that can affect it,” Drockton said. “So we just try to control the brand message as much as possible by thinking about the customer impact of every business decision, then hope that the fans that follow Hammitt will share that with other people. To me that’s the ultimate experiential retail.”

Becker Safety and Supply was also an “offline” company for much of its history. The supplier of safety supplies and equipment in Greeley, Colo., started out as a distributor with a warehouse and no retail presence. As the business grew, it opened a retail space within its warehouse for customers seeking an in-person experience. It will soon launch an ecommerce website that allows clients to purchase boots, tools, fire retardant clothing and more.

“Customers don’t really care that we only have 15 people, that we’re this small, family-run company without a large staff to do development on ecommerce and all these kinds of things,” Vice President Devin Becker said. “They just want to be treated the same way that they would at larger stores with that personal touch that we can provide.”

Becker Safety and Supply’s products are unique because customers need training to know how to use them properly. That inspired the company to host an annual safety expo and stream training sessions on Facebook Live. It also uses Snapchat and Instagram, unconventional social platforms for a B2B retailer, to engage and interact with customers.

Despite the upheaval and uncertainty surrounding retail, these businesses are proof that customers reward outstanding experiences. These brands are finding ways to differentiate themselves from the competition and are primed to excel thanks to that ingenuity.

Retail is not going away – it’s just transforming rapidly. And if you’re in search of inspiration for your own business, the stories of Hammitt and Becker Safety and Supply should provide just that.

Discover the steps your company can take to create memorable shopping experiences in this white paper, Build the Foundation for Great Customer Experiences.