Retail’s disastrous use of social media

Arguably the most important customers to retailers are those whose spending power will increase over time and who therefore represent the future revenue streams of merchants.

Social Response Breakdown


These are the younger generation and it is they who are, not surprisingly most courted by retailers, advertisers, and brand owners. Everybody wants their custom.

What connects these people is their use of social media. It is therefore sensible for merchants to adopt a progressive policy on social media. The likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are the natural platforms of communication for these digital natives and retailers should at the very least be making themselves accessible to these consumers on social media channels.

But are they? Well, according to research from Oracle (Oracle Retail Report 2015 – Delivering Retail), they are making a pretty poor job of it. Of the retailers tested Oracle found it could send enquiries by social media to 87% of them. So 13% have no presence – not good.

At least 87% do, so that must be good – yes?. Well, it would be if these retailers used it properly. The research found 42% of retailers did not respond to an enquiry, and 15% took more than one day (a lifetime in today’s digital world).

This is simply unacceptable. Many retailers have been put off social media by the difficulty of calculating an ROI on its use. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if retailers fail to respond to enquiries on these channels then they are losing customers.

Days Taken to Reply 2


It seems retailers are also faring pathetically badly with email enquiries. Oracle found 24% did not reply at all. And only 43% could manage to respond on the same day. This should surely be increased dramatically.

These two simple research findings suggest that retailers have a lot to learn about communicating with their customers despite the fact they maintain they are typically at the heart of their thinking. I know what Jim from the Royle Family would make of all this: ‘Customer-centric – my a**e’.


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