Digital engagement: Academy in Action with News UK

The way retailers reach out to customers and suppliers is constantly evolving, with more emphasis being placed on social media and digital communication.


  • Name: Susan Connolly
  • Store: Spar Beech Hill Road
  • Location: Tidworth, Wiltshire
  • Size: 900 sq ft
  • Years open: 44
  • Years in the IAA: 1

The way retailers reach out to customers and suppliers is constantly evolving, with more emphasis being placed on digital communication. The IAA’s Keon Dadgostar joined News UK’s Tony Parker to see what advice he could give Susan Connolly in her Spar store in Wiltshire.

Susan's challenge:

Susan would like to see a bigger return on investment from social media and digital communication, including an increase in engagement with customers and suppliers.

IAA advice:

1. Communicate with your customers online, using Facebook, Twitter and/or a shop website.

All of Susan’s stores have their own Facebook pages, which are used to engage with customers in a variety of ways. Susan explains that all of the in-store promotions are publicised here, with a large photo and short description. There are also fun pictures of staff members and updates on what is happening in the store.

Susan tells Tony she would like to see more comments from customers, as they are a great way to collect feedback, which can help improve the business. It is no secret, she says, that getting customers to write about their shopping experience is difficult if there’s no incentive.

Tony suggests that customers should be given the opportunity to enter a prize draw by leaving a comment on the page about a purchase they made in-store.

2. Implement processes that ensure your digital presence is kept up-to-date.

Susan explains she uses a social media management tool for all of her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This, she says, allows her to compose multiple posts, which she schedules to be published at various times. If she is too busy to go online, automatic posts mean her digital presence does not suffer.

Susan adds that she measures the response her posts receive so she knows for the future what kind of posts work with her audience. Up until now, Susan has run all of her stores’ Facebook pages by herself, but Tony says it would be beneficial to assign the managers of each store an admin role.

Store manager Lucy agrees to take co-ownership of this store’s page, so she and Susan will be able to monitor and update it more regularly.

3. Actively engage with suppliers through social media and online.

Susan uses Twitter predominantly to connect with other businesses. She has over 850 followers and tweets several times a day to fellow retailers and suppliers. With so many brands using Twitter, Susan says it is a helpful way to learn about new products. Susan also interacts with suppliers through their websites, as many of them contain resources for retailers.

After advising Susan to rearrange her newspaper display to show the headlines as well as the titles, Tony recommends the category management section on the News UK website to ensure she maximises sales.

To make products more visible to customers, Susan says she is willing to try digital screens. Tony says News UK can provide regular content for the screens, which can help to push small and large-scale promotions at a moment’s notice.

What we learnt:

news uk

“Susan and I have a few things we can work together on over the next few months while measuring sales to make sure what we are doing is making a difference. Being able to download promotions tonight that are happening tomorrow, which can go straight onto the digital screens, can be an efficient way to increase profits.  Also, if we can encourage customers to make comments online, we will learn more about how they feel about the store.”
Tony Parker, Field partner manager, News UK

susan connolly

“It has been a valuable morning with the IAA. Tony has shown us a new way of looking at news. While we take it for granted as a footfall driver, there are certainly benefits of promoting stories with the headlines in the window and on digital screens that can lead to an increase in sales. Having more members of staff involved in social media will certainly help us interact with our customers more.”
Susan Connolly, Spar Beech Hill Road, Wiltshire

bulbSusan’s action plan:

  1. Investigate the possibility of installing digital screens in-store.

  2. Run a prize draw on the Facebook to encourage customer feedback.

  3. Make store managers admin of Facebook pages and start making regular posts.

pencilYour action plan:

  • Go to betterretailing.com/IAA to download the free tools to improve your store

  • Complete the benchmarking form by 26 June to enter the IAA and be in with a chance to receive a mystery shop visit
  • Download your free digital copy of the IAA’s Retail Profit Guide.


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