Freestak CEO Simon was recently invited to talk at the Nike RSG (Running Speciality Group) Summit in the UK, on the ways that retailers can use story telling and social media to engage customers and ultimately increase sales.

The obvious challenge that retailers face, is competition. For bricks-and-mortar retailers, the main competition comes from online retailers, who are able to sell the same products without the cost of maintaining a high-street or retail park presence. For online retailers, the challenge comes from other online retailers, who are all looking to reach the maximum number of online shoppers through pay-per-click and social media advertising along with offering the biggest discounts.

However we believe that in many (although certainly not all) cases, there is a chance to create customer loyalty and side-step the problems associated with the race to the bottom, as far as prices are concerned.

In a recent blog post, marketing guru Seth Godin outlined the present reality of retail thus:

Shopping is an entertaining act, distinct from buying.

Shopping is looking around, spending time in search of choosing how to spend money. Shopping is buying something you’ve never purchased before.

Godin makes the point that many financial transactions are ‘buying’ rather than ‘shopping’; that is the transaction is simply replenishing something that has been used up, consumed or worn out. The same item is purchased at the best possible price.

But shopping involves trying to find something new, something better. Not necessarily something cheaper. Of course, there will always be people who will research the new and the better in a real shop and then buy the item online for less. But there are enough people who value the advice, community and experience that they get in a ‘real’ shop enough to pay the small additional amount to mean they can leave with the item and in that way thank the shop for helping them find the ‘new ‘or the ‘better’.

Those people are the ones that retailers can – and should – engage with. There are many ways that a retailer can do this, but a few suggestions include:

  • giving customers a reason to come to the retailer’s space (without it simply being to spend money)
  • providing runners with experiences or products that they cannot get online
  • creating an environment that is interesting or attractive enough that the customer wants to spend time there

What is important to remember here is that social networks and influencers are not the silver bullet – certainly they are a key part of making sure that customers and potential customers know about the ways that the retailer is doing more and going further. But creating channels through which to talk to customers is not the first step. The first step is creating some stories to talk about.


Leave a Comment