Digital engagement – Academy in Action 2020

In part five of a 12-week programme, find out how the IAA and betterRetailing helped Sunny Sahota improve how he engages his customers digitally

Retailers excelling in digital engagement use an array of social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to promote their store and connect with customers and fellow retailers, as well as use data and digital tools – such as Google Maps – to raise their profile in their local area.

One Stop Henlow is in a residential area in Bedfordshire and has become a key part of the community. Sunny Sahota, owner of the store, has plans to double the shop’s size in 2021 and go cashless in 2022.

The shop’s Facebook profile is currently run by his symbol group, and is quite product-led, meaning his shoppers don’t really engage with it.

Sunny wants to take control and tailor posts to his store so he can engage with shoppers directly.

How can the IAA and Steve Denham from Better Retailing help Sunny build a stronger online presence and interact more with his customers?

Why I take part

“We’re always thinking of ways to progress our business and plan to expand our store next year, but our digital footprint has been pushed to the sidelines.

“I want to be able to connect with my shoppers outside of the store, show them what we offer and bring in new customers. I’m confident that with the ideas Steve and the IAA have suggested, I’ll be able to engage with my community and increase sales.”

IAA advice

Ensuring customers can easily find out about you online

Sunny’s shop is on Google, with some great pictures of footfall drivers and new products, but with new houses being built locally, what can Sunny do to help show new customers they can rely on his store?

Steve says: “With more shoppers using Google to find what they need, it’s vital for retailers to have up-to-date photos of their store and to update them regularly.

“Offer new and existing customers an insight into your store by uploading images of your bestselling categories, like chilled and alcohol, including any speciality products.”

ACTIONUse Google My Business to upload high-quality photos of your store front and ranges, and update regularly

Connecting with customers and suppliers through social media

Sunny has a Twitter profile but doesn’t use it regularly and is unsure how to effectively use the platform to build relationships. How can Sunny use Twitter to connect with suppliers and retailers?

Steve says: “Independent retailers tend to not use Twitter as a customer-facing platform, but it’s great for building relationships with suppliers and other store owners.

“Many retailers often share their latest innovations, refits and how they meet customer demand. Twitter is a great place for retailers to learn from others and improve.”

ACTION ➜ Start using Twitter to build supplier relationships and see how other retailers are setting themselves apart

Posting engaging content and photos to start conversations

Sunny’s Facebook page is run by his symbol group, with posts from other stores appearing on it, too. Sunny wants to take ownership – what can he do to entice shoppers to engage with him?

Steve says: “Social media not only helps to promote your business, but it helps you to connect with customers. Each post you make should reflect you and your store’s personality, so customers feel they can engage on a personal level.

“Small changes, like a photo of your team or highlighting exceptional customer service, can be effective in bringing in new shoppers.”

ACTION Take ownership of your Facebook page and personalise posts to make them more about you and your store

To find out how Sunny got on following his visit from Steve Denham, click here.

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