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How are multichannel retailers using social media? STUDY

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How are UK retailers using social media, and what does this activity look like at its best? It’s a question relevant to online and multichannel businesses across the UK retail industry. Now a new IMGROUP-commissioned study considers how multichannel brands from Next to Superdrug are using four key social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

The study ranked the retailers – finding that Next had the best overall use of social media, followed by Argos and then Marks & Spencer – according to their follower numbers, response time and rates, but it also analysed how the retailers were using the different platforms.


It found all ten of the retailers (Next , Argos , Marks & Spencer , John Lewis , Homebase , Currys /PC World , Boots , Ikea , B&Q and Superdrug ) had a Facebook presence, which they used to engage with their audience in ways including customer service and complaint handling. All except Ikea’s UK page allowed customers to ask questions. Six out of 10 had an above-average response rate: the winner in this category was Next with a 92% average response rate and a 28 minute average response time.

All also had a Twitter presence, with seven out of the 10 having a specific account for online customer service. M&S and Ikea use their corporate Twitter handle for customer service and engagement, while Boots and Superdrug do not use Twitter for customer service or complaints. The winner in this category was Argos, with an average response rate of 76% and a response time of 55 minutes.

The use of Pinterest, to create boards and pin inspirational content, was less widespread. Four retailers, M&S, Next, John Lewis and Ikea, are using to engage customers in conversation and provide customer service. Measured on pins, boards, likes and followers, M&S was the winner for Pinterest activity.

Finally, Google+ was used by seven out of the ten retailers, but Currys/PC World was the only one that used the channel to engage with its audience, answering both questions and complaints through the channel and was the winner in this category. Other retailers used the channel for regular posts but did not respond to queries through the channel.

Martin Philpott, head of retail at information management technology and business consultant IMGROUP said, “This report demonstrates how important social media has become for all retailers. In the battle to compete with online giants such as ASOS and Amazon, bricks and mortar retailers are increasingly harnessing the power of social media as a means to actively engage with their customers, increasingly exploring newer channels like Pinterest. The next step for retailers is to make use of the information consumers share on social media sites to achieve a better understanding of behaviour and buying patterns, enabling them to interact with their customers in a much more seamless, targeted and engaging way.”

The findings

Next: Overall: 1; Facebook: 1; Twitter: 2; Pinterest: 2; Google+: 4

Argos: Overall: 2; Facebook: 2; Twitter: 1; Pinterest: 5; Google+: 5

M&S: Overall: 3; Facebook: 5; Twitter: 3; Pinterest: 1; Google+: 2

John Lewis: Overall: 4; Facebook: 6; Twitter: 5; Pinterest: 3; Google+: 3

Homebase: Overall: 5; Facebook: 4; Twitter: 4; Pinterest: 10; Google+: 6

Currys/PC World Overall: 6; Facebook: 8; Twitter: 8; Pinterest: 7; Google+: 1

Boots: Overall: 7; Facebook: 3; Twitter: 10; Pinterest: 9; Google+: 7

IKEA: Overall: 8; Facebook: 6; Twitter: 6; Pinterest: 4; Google+: 9

B&Q: Overall: 9; Facebook: 7; Twitter: 7; Pinterest: 6; Google+: 10

Superdrug: Overall: 10; Facebook: 9; Twitter: 9; Pinterest: 8; Google+: 8

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