I am still a newbie to the Back-to-School shopping game as my older son enters first grade this fall. Nevertheless, I consider myself a shopping athlete (MVP of course) — always playing to win in the retail game. And I am not alone among parents looking to send children to school in the latest fashion, coolest shoes and perhaps a backpack full of the latest tech and mobile gadgets.

Back To School

Deals and Discounts

“Back-to-school spending is a very needs-driven event,” National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis wrote in a blog post this summer. “You can’t send your child to school with jeans that don’t fit.”

At the same time, the average parent is still striving to be frugal, according to Grannis. NRF’s 2013 survey found that families with school-age kids will spend about $634 on clothes and school supplies, a decrease of about $50 compared to last year.

So where does the savvy parent find the best deals and offers these days? Social media! Connecting with our favorite brands on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest benefits both our wallets and our closets by leveraging promotions, contests and of course the influence of our social networks. Consumers save money; brands build up their social media communities; the social platforms increase ad revenue; and everyone goes home happy! Right?

Shopping Goes Viral

Wrong. The folks at Twitter want more (revenue), and they are daring to take social shopping to a new level. They recently hired Nathan Hubbard, the former president of Ticketmaster, as its first head of commerce.

It’s part of a push to enable shopping via short postings on Twitter’s social Web site. Experts predict that a “Buy” button will be added to the existing Twitter Card advertising program, but nothing official has been announced to date.

Let’s think about BIGGER possibilities though. Imagine harnessing Twitter’s famous (or infamous?) ability to take news viral across oceans and time zones in record time. More than 20 million tweets went out as Hurricane Sandy slammed the eastern U.S. seaboard in 2012, peaking at 1,600 tweets per minute. The power of Twitter is unrivaled when it comes to sharing information and influencing people. What if even a small percentage of those #Sandy posts had a “Buy” button to purchase a t-shirt in support of the victims directly from the tweet?

The Future of Shopping

What will Back-to-School shopping look like in 2014? Teens and tweens alike are known to respond to social influence online and offline. Shopping trends that would normally spread slowly over a period of weeks or months could potentially go viral in a matter of minutes, offering immediate and direct access to purchase via Twitter. Given the real-time nature of social media, brands will have the ability to revise product prices and promotions based on trends and predictive analytics. The future of shopping is fast-paced, competitive and colorful.

That’s my kind of sport!

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