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The Social Retailer

Aaron O’Dowling-Keane, InternetRetailing’s Site and Social Manager, puts the case for the role of social in multichannel retail, and invites you to monitor the activities of our list over the coming months via our ‘tweetailers’ list.

#Important doesn’t begin to capture the effect of social on today’s multichannel retail sector as it now touches every stage of selling from early influencing to aftersales service. Social has brought transparency to not only the buying process (whether ‘liking’ products on Facebook or retweeting unhappy reviews) but also the fulfillment process as your social media channels are expected to react to stock queries, delivery times and returns issues. Even when in-store, consumers are sharing their buying experiences, both positive and negative, on social media.

Recognising how social is empowering its customers is vital to our top retailers and assessing how they use it is key in ranking their current and future success.

Being there

Typing our top retailers into Google brings up their websites and quick on their tails are their social sites. Facebook and Twitter both have a domain authority of 100 affirming that social presence ranks highly and a notable Google+ presence is now a permanent feature of the Google search results.


Getting followers, likes, hearts and plusses are public endorsements of your brand. Notifications from Facebook and Twitter highlight what the people in one’s network ‘like’ and ‘follow’ and this encourages one’s network to follow suit. You can enlist the customers and fans who are genuinely interested in your brand to amplify their views across their own social graph, introducing new customers and increasing existing customer loyalty. This loyalty is best created via a two-way conversation rather than incessant promotion.

Our keyword is engagement. Do retailers respond to queries in real time? Do they post content that their followers and fans are enjoying and wish to share?


Social offers the opportunity for new interesting forms of interaction with your customer base with a low cost of experimentation and rapid results.

    • ASOS created a Facebook version of queuing overnight for priority access to its summer sale with a 2000% ROI.
    • TUI Travel offered bespoke holiday packages to followers who tweeted them a destination.
    • TopShop partnered with Google+ for Fashion week to allow their followers to take photos of the catwalk in action, create outfits and do makeovers.
    • Co-op Electrical used SnapChat to offer discounts on laptops to students at the start of the academic year.

Customer Service

62% of customers use social media for customer service and many of whom expect a response within 60 minutes. Customers increasingly turn to Facebook and Twitter, and now also Google+, to force a response from retailers. When you’re on hold for 45 minutes no-one can hear you scream but a 140 character rant can be seen across the world. Social done well can turn complainants into brand ambassadors but done badly can expose your whole brand to mass criticism and prevent customers from returning.


Your digital engagement and your store experience are linked since our customer is mobile (in every sense of the word) and is armed with a camera. Encouraging check-ins, likes and tweets is positive brand awareness. Do you encourage social engagement in-store with displays, calls to action and promotions?

Real-time assessment

In order to monitor and analyse the activities of the Footprint retailers we’ve created a list (“tweetailers”) so that you can see in one place the varying activities of the retailers in this report. Visit where you can see the ratio of promotional to conversational, the customer input versus the marketing push, the balance between product and brand activity.

Additional work on other social channels and crucially how they work together and delivery ROI will form a core part of the Top 500 ranking, to be unveiled in October. In the meantime please let us know what you think of either via or of course via twitter @etail.

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