Snapchat probably seems like a tool for kids, so it might surprise you to learn its user base is between the ages of 13 and 34. Of course, if you run a shop dedicated to age-restricted beverages, your user base starts at 21, but still: that’s a large age range you could be missing out on.
Plus, Snapchat can actually be enormously helpful in stocking your retail shop with branded merchandise, and as a way to build brand with your customers and prospects. Seem unlikely? It isn’t. This useful social media tool is useful in that it can take both your organization and your promotion to the next level, without much effort on your part.
Ready to learn?
Below we’ll discuss what Snapchat is, how it works, how to use it to restock or otherwise manage inventory, and how to attract an audience and market products. Once you’re finished with this article, your trepidation will become enthusiasm, we promise!
What Is Snapchat?
Snapchat is a social media platform that allows users to send photos and videos with captions to their friends, who would only be able to see it for a few moments before it electronically self-destructed. Originally it was used to send content the senders didn’t want, er, hanging around. You can imagine the uses to which it was primarily put for several years.
However, then a few clever types started seeing the possibilities. For one thing, Snapchat could be used for more than just salacious content … it could be used to create scarcity, which is a crucial marketing tool. For another, its developers soon realized they could bring businesses and more mature users on board if they created a permanent (or semi-permanent).
How Does Snapchat Work?
Enter stories. While Snapchat can still be used to send messages only to friends, with the same self-destruct function, Stories now lets individuals and brands “string Snaps together to create a narrative that lasts for 24 hours.” Snapchat explains Stories the following way:
“To create a Story, a user chooses to add their Snaps to their Story. Depending on their privacy settings, the photos and videos added to a Story can be viewed by either all Snapchatters, just the user’s friends, or a customized group. Stories honor the true nature of storytelling – in sequential order with a beginning, middle and end.”
As a wine or beer retailer, artisanal shop purveyor or tasting room manager, you can use this to your benefit in many ways, which we will explore below.
Steadily stocking and seeing to your shelves can be kind of a pain sometimes, especially when you have to fill out forms for what you need and run back and forth between the floor and the warehouse or back room. One company figured out that using Snapchat for “replenishment” made life a whole heck of a lot easier:
“The previous system of replenishment involved scribbling notes on paper and relaying those notes over the phone, or transcribing them into emails (especially true if your stock area was in a different location from your store), or literally running back and forth between the sales floor and the stock room.”
Snapchat’s easy markup functions make this much easier, allowing a manager on the floor to take a picture of an item that needs replenishing, making notes about needed sizes or amounts, and sending it off to the warehouse or stock room:
“As soon as she does that, the stock guy in the back room gets an alert, either through email or on his iPad, that a new file has been uploaded to the community. He looks at the file, sees the exact style, color, and sizes that are needed, and immediately starts pulling these items from stock and sending them to the sales floor to be replenished.”
In particularly large companies, the picture might go to a different platform (the company in this article uses IBM Communities). Couldn’t be easier, right?
Attracting an Audience
Wine – and retail in general, for that matter – is inherently a lifestyle business. No one needs a bottle of wine, just as no one needs a fancy jar of olives or a fun new scarf. But we want them, and we want them even more powerfully when emotion enters the picture.
Snapchat can help you cultivate emotion around your products. As explained above, the whole point of Stories is to tell a story with beginning, middle and end. Think how powerful your story can be if you upload shots and scenes of your business’s busy day throughout. The scarcity factor only makes these impressions more powerful, as they disappear after 24 hours.
For instance, you can offer little “sneak peeks” into products that won’t be ready for months to come, advises Business Solutions Center, or create a branded video series exploring items of interest to your viewers. If you run a tasting room, perhaps you offer tips on how to choose wine. A liquor store might do a series on making cocktails, and a clothing shop might help viewers choose pieces that go together.
Marketing Your Products
Snapchat is also a great place to market products, of course. Let’s say you want to get people interested in your branded wine club gifts, for instance. You could feature one a day, then repeat when you run through the cycle … since you have no backlog (because your Stories refresh daily), it will seem new again.
You can also feature your products in a less overt way as well. Whether you run a cooking series, help people choose the right shoes for the season, or even give talks about life insurance, you can feature your merchandise in the background. When people see logos, they form a relationship with your brand that makes them trust you and think of you when they have related needs.
So you’ve decided Snapchat might not be all bad, but aren’t sure how to get started. As with any new process, go slow. Start an account and experiment with pictures and videos. Don’t put pressure on yourself to go through a whole launch process or “get it right” … it will be gone in a day’s time, anyway.
If you’re busy, delegate to multiple employees. Having a community feel surrounding your products is attractive anyway, and makes you seem like the type of business your customers want to frequent.
When All Is Said and Done …
Snapchat is simply a tool you can’t afford not to use. Especially considering it appeals to a prime age group to which wine shops, tasting rooms, and beer and liquor stores cater, it would be shortsighted to let your competitors get the jump on you by discovering its uses for themselves.
Now that you know how to use Snapchat both as a management and a marketing tool, we’d love to know if you find it useful in your business. We would also like to know if you’ve already put it to use in your business, and if so, what tips you might have to share with the rest of us. Feel free to leave your insights in the comments.