Friday, 30 March 2012

Social Media is a massive opportunity for retailers

This week I attended the Association of Convenience Stores Summit 2012, the annual gathering of over 400 retailers, suppliers and key influencers from the convenience retail industry. The event was proof that we work in an industry that is full of passionate, hard working and talented individuals who are committed to future growth and success.

The day focused on 4 key themes which are at the very heart of the convenience sector; Community, Sustainability, Technology & Innovation and People. It was impossible not to be motivated and inspired by the eclectic mix of speakers and retailers who took to the stage. These included: ACS Chief Executive James Lowman @JMLowman, Futurologist James Bellini, former Chief Executive of Ratners Group, Gerald Ratner and leading convenience retailer Rav Garcha @ravgarcharetail who shared a video of his road-trip around the UK, visiting some of the very best retailers in the land.

What impressed me most about the event was that everything was geared around taking positive action and change for the future. Throughout the day there were discussions which enabled time poor retailers to create an action plan that they could take back and implement in store. Some of the top actions from the day were: using PR to drive awareness and improve their businesses; working with suppliers more closely and using social media. Retailer Jonathan James @ForecourtJJ said: “The biggest opportunity is social media and we are completely under-using that at the moment.”

This event has cemented my view that retailers do want to adapt and embrace change. Whilst many have some excellent ideas on what they need to be doing to grow and be more successful, some are often unsure about how they should go about it. Retailers will therefore continue to look to trusted sources like their retailer peers, the ACS, business media and key supplier experts for advice, help and support. It’s clear to me that those suppliers who actively engage with retailers and commit to an ongoing trade marketing, communications and PR program will surely become genuine retail partners and in doing so help mutually grow sales and profit now and in the future.

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