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Reach out to customers

Enabling shoppers to follow and share on social media, while making it easier for them to get in touch through a range of channels, helps retail brands engage effectively

RETAILERS THAT STAND out in this Brand Engagement Performance Dimension make themselves available to customers wherever they are. It’s about starting conversations where consumers are listening, and being in the right place to answer queries and questions, while using ratings and reviews to harness the insights and experience of people who have previously bought a product.

What the Top500 do

On average, Top500 IREU retailers trade in two or three markets in the European Economic Area (EEA), plus Switzerland, and they support between two and three languages. Most retailers, however, support just one language in one market, suggesting that many EEA retailers work only with their domestic market and in their own language.

Research carried out by Knowledge Partner Hitwise for InternetRetailing found that 80% of new visitors to Top500 websites came via search engines. Shoppers have, on average, four channels to choose from when contacting a European retailer, more often than not including Facebook. 305 of the Top500 retailers are on this platform, with an average of 6.5m page Likes and a median of 291,585.

Researchers found that the 279 retailers with Twitter feeds have an average of 157,949 followers (median 26,154). Around half of retailers enable consumers to find out what others think of their products, with 50% showing product ratings and 52% displaying product reviews.

The research team also looked at how Top500 retailers enable customers to rate and share products via their mobile apps. They found that 40% enable sharing items on social media from the mobile app, while 12% enable social media Likes. Just over a quarter (27%) display star ratings, while just under a quarter (25%) offer written product reviews.

What the leaders do

Global homewares retailer IKEA enables its European customers, wherever they hail from and whatever their mother tongue, to view its website in a home language. It supports a total of 28 languages in EEA markets, offering both Basque and Spanish within Spain and both Latvian and Russian within Latvia. IKEA’s 16 communication channels include four social media channels.

French value fashion retailer Kiabi has a flexible approach to engagement. Website visitors can Like its products on social media, while those visiting its Facebook page can switch between regions. This enables shoppers to engage in seven languages and via six social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Visitors to its website can also put their questions to the Kiabi community.

British ethical retailer The Body Shop stands out in InternetRetailing research as one of the few retailers that has both star ratings and written reviews on its mobile app. It enables shoppers to Like products on social media and to switch between Facebook pages by region.

Swedish fast fashion retailer H&M supports 17 languages within EEA markets and communicates via 10 channels, including six social media channels.

Market variations

InternetRetailing research suggests some sizeable variations in brand engagement between markets. The average British retailer, for example, supports more ways for customers to get in touch, at between four and five. That’s followed by German, Spanish, Dutch and French retailers, at between three and four. At the other end of the scale, Hungarian and Danish retailers offer, on average, between one and two channels.

The average European retailer may support between two and three markets and languages but at the level of the individual markets, average retailers still tend to have a purely domestic outlook, supporting just one market in one language – or between one and two languages in Belgium and Switzerland, where more than one language is spoken.

Hungarian consumers appear the most predisposed to give the thumbs up to a Facebook page, with retailers who trade there having a median of 291,585 Likes. Twitter appears to be much more widely used in the UK than other markets, with British retailers enjoying a median following of 26,154. Search referrals carried most weight in the UK, with 81% of new customers referred from a search engine, followed by Germany (65%) and Italy (64%).

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