Canadian Retailer - January/February 2010 - (Page 46)

C LO S I NG T I M E: YOU A S K E D U S Every day, Retail Council of Canada’s Customer Service team receives phone calls and e-mails from members across the country with questions about every aspect of the retail industry. If you’re not sure where to turn when you need answers about government legislation, privacy issues or anything else affecting your business — contact us! It’s just one more way Retail Council of Canada works hard to be your Voice of Retail. Engaging with customers through social media “I keep hearing about the rewards and benefits enjoyed by retailers who use social media to reach customers. Are the benefits really worth investing my time and effort for?” Leveraging social media to engage potential customers and better understand their preferences and needs can seem like a daunting task. Where do retailers start? Which web sites are the best ones to use? And how exactly should they be leveraged to maximize return? Below is a rough guide to help retailers take those first steps toward full engagement with the concept of social media. TIPS TO GET STARTED Embrace the medium Understand that the use of social media is not a fad that will disappear within the next 6-12 months. The number of users on social networking sites increases every day. There are approximately 250 million users on Facebook – a number that has increased by nearly 200% over the course of the past year, according to Nielsen. And the number of people on Twitter has also grown - a staggering 1,500% over 2009 to total close to 18 million. Choose a web site and engage Okay, you’ve embraced the medium and have decided that you want to begin using it to reach your customers. Now choose the web site that will benefit the specific needs of your business. Facebook is a great tool to help retailers become involved in conversations with customers about their own product or service. Twitter, on the other hand, represents one of the quickest and easiest ways to generate word of mouth amongst customers concerning sales, promotions and new product releases. Understand the tools As soon as you’ve chosen a web site that suits the needs of your business, start to explore it to become comfortable with the tools. Getting staff involved and providing tutorial for those who may not be engaged in social media is also a good idea. The more you and your staff know about the medium, the more effective a tool it will be. Set some guidelines It’s a good idea to make sure that management and staff understand the objectives behind using social media. A clear, concise description of the way the web sites and their tools are to be used and how to communicate and connect within them is also important. Monitor, listen and respond The internet can help you better understand your customers’ preferences and needs. Online tools like Google Alerts, Technorati and Twitter Search are great ways to find out what your customers are saying about you and your product or service. Once you’ve listened and heard, respond to the attitudes of the consumer through improved pricing, product availability, or anything else that might help improve the shopping experience for your clientele. BENEFITS TO USING SOCIAL MEDIA Offers insights into consumer attitudes Interacting with consumers on a day-to-day basis within an environment that encourages communication and sharing is vital to understanding their attitudes toward your brand and the reputation of your company. Creates a meaningful, lasting community Engaging with customers online allows retailers to extend their reach beyond their physical storefront. Whether your customer is located in a different town, city, province or even a different country – leveraging social media will help you connect with that customer within seconds. Offers direct marketing for sales, discounts and more The promotional and marketing capabilities of social media offer retailers enormous opportunity to engage customers where they are and present them with real-time information regarding sales and services that can have an immediate effect on visits to the store. Allows retailers to offer dynamic content for customers Uploading fresh and current content on a consistent basis will grab the attention and interest of customers, and get them into your store. Facebook allows retailers to upload video, audio and images, which can be used to create really dynamic marketing content that will add great value to the online experience of your customer, increasing the effectiveness of your engagement with them. Engage with consumers directly Social media dismantles the old “retailer to customer” one way interaction. Now, retailers can reach customers and engage with them in meaningful and live conversation, enabling them to become even more proactive in their approach, giving them the opportunity to adjust their operations, product or service to suit the needs and expectations of their customers. © I S TO C K P H OTO.C O M / R YC C I O 4 6 | C A N A D I A N R E TA I L E R | J A N UA R Y/ F E B R U A R Y 2 010 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - January/February 2010

Canadian Retailer - January/February 2010
Publisher’s Desk
Shop Talk
Store Design
In Your Interest
Retail Generations
Retail Profile
Loss Prevention Supplement
Human Resources
Marketing and Advertising
Member Profile
Advertisers’ Index
You Asked Us

Canadian Retailer - January/February 2010