How Retailers Can Look to Squad Shopping to Tap Into the Power of Collective Buying

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Despite the pandemic making it difficult to meet up with friends, a trend called "squad shopping" gained popularity in the online world. In this context, squad shopping is “the use of video and/or screen-sharing technology to shop online with friends and family”, according to Dave Bruno of RetailWire. Now as the world transitions back to business-as-usual, the trend has shown signs of persisting and moving beyond only Zooms and FaceTimes to also include in-person, in-store experiences.

It might have a catchy new term now, but squad shopping is essentially a technology-aided evolution of group shopping, which has been a dynamic in retail for millenia. Stretching back to ancient Rome, when Trajan's Forum offered permanent storefronts across from the Colosseum in what is considered the world’s first shopping mall, retailers have recognized the impact that winning one customer has on winning those they are browsing with.

Studies and market research have consistently proven the tremendous impact of input from peers and loved ones on purchasing behavior and decision-making. In fact, a Nielsen survey revealed that 54% of respondents had increased their spending on impulsive purchases in 2019, with an impressive 80% crediting social recommendations from friends and family as their primary impetus. And no different than in ancient times, brands and stores can develop smart tactics to take advantage of this power and the benefits it yields.

In essence, collective buying capitalizes on the power of social proof. When customers see that other people are buying a certain product or shopping from a particular brand, they are more likely to follow suit and make similar purchases, due to their lack of knowledge about what to buy or where to shop. Giving a customer a reason to share a purchasing recommendation through word-of-mouth can not only lead to more customers won with no additional marketing spend, but also establishes a trust and loyalty with current and potential customers that transcends the capabilities of traditional advertising.

So how does a brand set out to create experiences that you’d want to tell everyone you know about in an environment where the competition for attention is as fierce as ever? While the possibilities are limitless, it is important to create an omni-channel strategy that includes initiatives across both online and in-store, even if the goal is one of growing e-commerce and social buzz. People who cannot make it to a store with friends can nevertheless be influenced by what they see and hear about an in-store experience. On the other end of the spectrum, a group of friends spending a day at the mall can make no purchases, but go home and convert digitally after an impression made in-store eventually won them over.

One popular approach for retailers to create an engaging shopping experience is by offering special events or classes. For example, Southwood Center in New Jersey has special events such as movie nights, live music, and art exhibits that attract shoppers looking for something more than just shopping. By offering these types of activities, retailers are able to create an engaging atmosphere that encourages customers to come together and shop in groups.

Sur La Table, with 134 stores in 32 states, has become a popular kitchenware retailer for group shopping trips due to its wide selection of products and in-store cooking schools taught by resident chefs. Over 600,000 students attend these classes annually, and up to half of the customers who finish a class go on to make a purchase. Group shopping trips to Sur La Table are especially enjoyable due to the unique combination of product and experience that no other retailer can match. CEO Billy May says “That combination of product and experience, service and expertise are what separates Sur La Table,” and “we can do it at scale.”

One particular idea favored by North America’s biggest brands today, especially in fashion, apparel, and cosmetics, is hosting a DJ in-store during regular shopping hours. This is an innovative and engaging experiential activation that provides customers with an exciting shopping experience, and resonates strongly with the interests of those in the key Gen Z and Millennial demographics. A visit to a store with a DJ playing music instantly transforms it into an exciting and lively place. Having a DJ present creates a sense of community where everyone can enjoy themselves without judgment or criticism. The right mix of music helps customers feel comfortable enough to express their unique style and experiment with different clothing choices.  Not only does this encourage them to stay longer, but it also helps build a relationship between them and the brand.

Though common stereotypes about the horrors of engaging entertainers on a large scale might be enough to keep this initiative off the minds of certain brands, one vendor has made it a breeze for brand partners for over two decades. With Scratch Event DJs, utilizing DJs in-store is the easiest way to event-ize a space for customers and guests. Scratch has worked with the most influential brands to create private launch events, pop-up experiences, interactive product showcases, and more. Scratch’s client service team efficiently and reliably curates high-quality, professional DJs anytime, anywhere from the world’s largest network of DJ talent.

If you think Scratch Event DJs could energize your brand, read more about How Scratch Works or Let's Connect!


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