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Retailers Use Social Media To Fine-Tune Operations
28 Oct 2011 EDT - CNBC.com
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It’s early on Black Friday and retailers are overrun with holiday bargain hunters when a shopper starts tweeting to friends that a store has quickly sold out of the big flat-screen televisions advertised on sale.

If the national chain that owns the store is following mentions of the business on Twitter , it has choices: Does it rush more TVs to the store? Provide update tweets on which locations are sold out and which have sets in stock?

The hypothetical scenario represents a slice of the opportunities and dilemmas facing retailers as the social media phenomenon changes the shape of consumer behavior.

Platforms like Twitter and Facebook not only give businesses a chance to promote their wares and build brand loyalty, they also offer an opportunity to respond directly to shoppers and pick up on consumer opinions and trends.

While the new social media landscape means a small customer-service misstep can mushroom into a big public-relations embarrassment on YouTube or Twitter, the ability to monitor consumer tastes also gives retailers access to a trove of information that may help them as they plan product lines and inventory.

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