With the future of the high street continuously looking bleak and ever more empty shop signs appearing, Property firm Land Securities reported in analysis of its recent financial report that the “high street may never recover” from fall out due to the recession. Mary Portas has been tirelessly campaigning to raise awareness of the disintegration of the high street shopper with an estimated twenty shops closed every single day in 2011.
Yet there is a modicum of hope says Peter Doyle, founder and MD of SocialRetail.co.uk who believes that the power of conversations through social networking will turn around high street retail’s fortunes, “As offline and online realities begin to converge, we are increasingly seeing the rise of the multi-channel shopper."
A recent Experian UK study found one third of UK shoppers now fall into this category. "It is vital that retailers develop an integrated “conversation plan” to synchronise their on and offline communications, integrate social media with face-to-face sales, ads, community and store events, and ensure that all social-media activity is organised around key conversational topics that reflect brand values.”
Foursquare is a social media tool which currently reaches out to a community of 20 million people worldwide. It is a tool which helps to connect the user to events in the local community, offering a service for brands to use to help improve its connectivity with customers. Doyle believes this tool and other social media providers can be used to work in conjunction with a retailer’s bricks and mortar store to revive sales, ”Retail is a social experience and Location Based Services like FourSquare allow customers to recommend products and events to nearby friends, turning customers into real-time ambassadors for each store, in its local area.
“Businesses can form popular Facebook groups or hash-tags around in-store events and local competitions, keep “followers” informed of new products or services, which build sustainable relationships with their neighbours, and bring them back to the High Street.
“Stores can then offer incentives for customers to “check in” on FourSquare or recommend an in-store offer on Facebook Connect, extending the network and triggering more footfall.”