Since the beginning of the year we have seen a slow trickle of UK companies go in to administration such as Oddbins or Focus DIY but over the last week we have had a culmination of additional companies throwing in the towel, such as Habitat and Moben/Dolphin, or some making a last ditch attempt by slashing its exposure and changing its business direction, such as Thorntons or Jane Norman.
Obviously hard-up shoppers struck by increased taxes, pay freezes and the fear of redundancy are re-evaluating their spending and affecting retail sales. However, is there another approach these previously successful retail companies could have taken to increasing their customer base?
From 20 years of experience in the retail industry I believe the answer is YES. Amongst other marketing solutions including reviewing the look of in store environments, selling equipment, POS and visual merchandising, one of the key aspects would be Social Media. This can be seen by some of the thriving modern businesses succeeding in this challenging market such as ASOS, JD Sports Net-a-Porter, Bang & Olufsen or Marks and Spencer, who have embraced their customers needs for receiving up-to-date, refreshing and pertinent information about their offerings via social media channels. They each have vibrant and specific Facebook pages that communicate to clients current snippets of commodity specific information i.e. whats hot and not, latest new products, new store openings, promotional offers (some exclusive), Sale items .In addition the customers can also personally comment and share their own thoughts. Isnt great when someone else Bigs up your product or service.
Foursquare would also have an amazing effect on engagement with shoppers, giving retailers the ability to communicate their offers and spread the word virally and very quickly. Who would be Mayor of the Flagship store of Marks and Spencer, Next, Prada and the small local high street fashion boutique or even the local Good Looking Optics Opticians?
Videos of product demonstrations and how to use . or how to put together outfits from latest collections for that special occasion, uploaded on You Tube would demonstrate a company that is there to help, and would be seen as the fountain of knowledge. Not mention how they would help in Search Engine Optimisation of the companys website.
So could Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Foursquare, Linked In, Blogs .and the rest of the social media channels have helped some of our well known high street names? Would it have given them an opportunity to engage through an additional touch point of their brand?
What do you think? Please let us know your thoughts.