Customer service

Source: Getty

Grocery retailers are unwise to ignore their communities

Approximately £23bn of consumer spend in the UK is influenced by online reviews. Yet recent research conducted by DAC Group found not a single supermarket brand with an online presence responds to these reviews.

Grocery retailers may not wish to open up a Pandora’s Box during a cost of living crisis, but actually it’s a long-standing policy. Given their scale, the supermarkets are most typically focused on brand salience – price and location – over reputation.

Either way, grocery retailers are unwise to ignore their communities, whether that’s on a digital or physical level – and they risk missing the connections between each.

Google has been very clear that responding to reviews improves local ranking and visibility, in turn driving footfall at a local level. Equally, ignoring reviews means supermarkets are missing out on intent insights that can influence operations and reveal how to best serve their customers.

It’s important to remember supermarkets aren’t just competing with other grocery stores – they’re up against department stores and online specialists, too. This is particularly true when it comes to big-ticket items such as electronics and home furnishings. For these purchases, customers pay much closer attention to reviews before parting with large sums of their hard earned cash.

Responding to reviews and customer enquiries demonstrates store expertise and generates trust. While this can convince customers to make the purchase, another key consideration is what reviews reveal in relation to local stock management. This benefits both the shopper and the business.

For example, we can expect searches for televisions to spike as the World Cup approaches. By tracking searches at a postcode level, businesses can ensure particular stores hold sufficient stock, in the right screen sizes and so on.

But it’s not just about sales. Reputation is a separate measure of success. Brands should thus evaluate KPIs such as loyalty card sign-ups as a means to measure how engaged customers are with the brand. The additional insights gleaned, when combined with digital indicators, can be used to tailor offers on a local level and create an optimal customer experience.

No brand, even the biggest ones, can rely on brand equity without nurturing it. Reputation must be earned and carefully managed. Supermarkets that invest in engaging with their customers at a local level will be best placed to weather the coming recession and emerge stronger on the other side. Those that do nothing put themselves at risk.