Friday, August 28, 2009

Why social networking sites are not being used by Indian Retail?

Twitter, the micro blogging site is gaining strength each passing day. Yet, I don’t see this being leveraged by any of the Indian Retail Chains, leave alone the Indian businesses. This has the potential to become a great sounding board for customers as also an information source for retailers. I would leverage this medium in myriad ways, starting from the following –
  • Create a followers base of all regular/ loyal customers and tweet all promotions and offers details.
  • Leverage this medium to increase the followers’ base by offering some exclusive powerful offers only to twitter followers with a unique alphanumeric code. They need to show this tweet at the cash-till wherein this is captured for audit purposes and the promotion is extended to the customer.
  • Leverage the power of retweet to increase reach and the number of loyal customers.
    Create a database of potential part time employees who can be sent tweets in times of special promotions where extra man power is required.
  • Conversely, customers can tweet their feedback/ suggestions and complaints which can be directed to the respective department with a date and time stamp to track closure and measure reaction time.

Sceptics would debate about the penetration and awareness of such applications amongst the Indian shopper, especially the India Housewife. All I can say is that there are lots of net savvy housewives and individuals in India today and these initiatives will only create further impetus for others to take to this. I recall a news report way back in 2007 which talked about how housewives are increasingly doing online trading in shares! I rest my case.

Similar to Twitter is Facebook. Why can’t Indian Retail leverage it the way ZooZoo’s of Vodafone did? Create a group, invite fans as also invite feedback and suggestions. Create interesting messages to be shares and propagated. Simple things like wall papers, screen savers of interesting advertisements, automatic updates.

In fact several consumer review sites like mouthshut.com are being ignored by retail marketers, assuming people are even aware of the same! This site has close to 90 listings each for one of the corporate chains and similarly significant number of reviews about others. I wonder if this is being even seen or tracked by anyone and reverted to? At least is someone aware that such a thing is there on the net and I am talking about only one such site. Word of mouth advertising is the most powerful toll for a retailer and ignoring such public feedback is not going to help the lakhs and crores of marketing spends being indulged by these retailers.

In summary, there seems to be a serious dearth of creativity in Indian Retail with regard to maximising the marketing efforts and budgets available. What has been done since the mid 90’s in terms of product and price communications, using red and yellow seems to be a clich├ęd, repetitive pattern. I for one do not believe in knocking the old, tried and tested methods. But I also do not recommend being blind to new developments and not exploring every such new opportunities, especially low cost and high impact options.

3 comments:

puresunshine said...

I agree with you completely. I guess some brands should catch up here. I was doing research on this and was surprised to find brands like Adidas and Nike absent too. However, brands not available here- like Manolo Blahnik and also the accessible Jimmy Choo- love twitter and its interesting to see how they can create interesting tweets too. That's definitely a challenge!

R.J. said...

Great post! When I read your article, I really agree with you about this. I hope you will share more with us. Thank you!
R.J.
Artificial Turf

Alok Kumar said...

Though Indian retail is yet to leverage the power of social media fully, things have taken off recently. For instance, Future Group's retail arms like eZone have dedicated Facebook pages.

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