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The Retail Doctor: Leverage Social Media To Drive E-Commerce

As several independent gourmet kitchen retailers have pivoted their focus to e-commerce amid the COVID-19 outbreak, many others have quickly launched new online shops in order to service customers.

The Abundant Kitchen, with locations in Buffalo and Excelsior, MN, launched their online shop this week, as did Cook On Bay in Beaufort, SC. Meanwhile other retailers, such as The Chopping Block in Chicago, IL have said they are in the process of doing the same.

With that said, for many retailers who are doing their best to stay afloat, drawing attention to their online shops is key to driving customers to their business, and retail expert Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor, told GOURMET INSIDER®  that social media is one of the best ways to do so.

Here, Phibbs offers some best practices on leveraging social media to generate online business, as well as advice for retailers that have yet to launch e-commerce, but are considering it.

Gourmet Insider: For retailers that do have an e-commerce site, what are some promotional ideas that can help draw customers in?
Bob Phibbs: Let’s understand right now we are in the middle of a global pandemic. People are not shopping because of price, they are worried about their own health and that of their families. The most important tool to use is social media. Doing a 3 to 5 minute video that either helps take someone out of their day or do something better with their day is appropriate, not just going live and doing a laundry list such as, “We have this, and this, and this.” Your goal now is to serve your customers.

GI: How can social media draw attention to their e-commerce and what sort of brand messaging should they be following?
BP: If you’re open, tell them what you’re doing to clean and disinfect after every customer and how you’re managing social distancing.  If you’re closed to browsing, show that you are setup for online shopping.

GI: Tell us more about your strategy of “nostalgia” marketing. How and why can that be effective right now?
BP: The key is to make sure the focus stays entirely on the customer. I’m not really interested in why you opened your store, I am interested in what your angle to it might be. For example, helping novice bakers become masters. Sharing your point of view, one that is interesting, leads to great videos, which leads to comments from viewers and continues the interaction.

GI: Can you share an example of how to tap into nostalgia marketing right now?
BP: You want people to remember the good times they had in your store. Ask them to share a  favorite memory of shopping with you and use a hashtag: #YOURBUSINESSmemory. Ask for the best gift they gave that they purchased from you: #YOURBUSINESSbestgift. All of those things help people feel normalcy again.

GI: If a retailer does not have an e-commerce presence, is now the time to dive in?
BP: If we’ve learned anything from this it is you don’t have the luxury of not being on social media or having a website. Not to compete with Amazon though, but so your own customers can buy from you. The price of software has come down and most integrate into existing systems.

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