Back in the mid 1990's an online movement was gradually taking place, an interesting phenomena back then, but very few recognised that this was to be the birth of eCommerce around the globe.
At first there were just a few of eCommerce sites, these included book stores, music stores, and the inevitable world of 'online 'porn', and lots of people just wanting to earn some extra income from something they already knew a lot about.
This was at a time when most physical retailers thought it nothing other than a fad, an irritation maybe, and something that if embraced would 'cannabilise' their existing physical store portfolio.
The pandemic accelerated a change in employee and consumer behaviours with the tangible effects only now starting surface. Since 'lockdown' and the generous 'furlough' schemes many frustrated wannabee entrepreneurs have joined their counterparts and 'got that small business going'.
On Instagram, FaceBook, TikTok, Pinterest and other social networking platforms, there are literally thousands of small businesses, and they are all nibbling away, piece by piece at a lot of established retail, and eCommerce companies.
Statistics show that people trust the recommendations of a 'niche' (relatable) influencer they follow more than any other form of advertising. It seems the age of the big bucks paid 'Kardashian' type influencer has at last started it's decline.
In fact, 70% of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions, and 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger. Why?
Consumers want to hear from other consumers. This is largely due to their trustworthiness, their relatability and the fact that their followers value their opinion more highly than a celebrity or brand.
And what makes these 'influencers' really stand out?
They engage, and listen to what's being said - unlike many retail laggards we see every day in the headlines.
Social Listening is an awesome 'Superpower' and if done within the correct strategic framework it can turbo charge your business, make you more relatable, and give you access to where your brand should be going, NOT where its been.
"What's in style right now is streetwear, and Topshop hasn't got much of that," she tells the BBC. Ms Armstrong is a typical consumer, someone who used to shop there often, but has since moved onto other brands. Meanwhile, she says that people younger than her don't see Topshop's styles as being "on trend".