I’ve been on the lookout for how retailers in Canada are using social media and mobile solutions to interact with their customers. I was pleasantly surprised at the creativity and innovation of some of the organizations. My observations are purely observational at this point, and based on what goes on in the Greater Toronto Area, but here are a number of uses of social media that have caught my eye recently:
Integrating Social Media and Digital Signage – Holt Renfrew has a limited time ability to tweet your #holtsbeauty tip on to their in-store digital signage in Toronto. A free way to share information among HR customers, and get ones’ name in lights as it were.
Highlighting Social Media On-Site and Following their Customers Online – Jack Astor’s are encouraging their customers to join their Facebook page when they bring the check. They also started following me on Twitter when I became mayor of one of their locations on Foursquare, so they are paying attention. That’s the kind of two way interaction that is novel to people and shoes a dedication to customers who are loyal enough to visit their restaurants and publish it online.
SMS Coupons – Payless Shoe Source Canada is offering a limited time SMS coupon for 20% off next purchase (text 77777 with Payless). There is a very quick response with the coupon. Kudos to Payless for highlighting that you have given them your number for messages and providing a very quick opt out, which worked flawlessly. It’s a novel opportunity to use a coupon without paper, and the instant gratification of the text is satisfying as well.
Youtube Channels – Mastermind Toys has great coverage across many social media sites; particularly their Youtube channel where they show videos of their staff discussing products for sale in stores. This is a great way to bring the store experience into the online world.
Beyond these individual businesses and their ideas, I’m impressed at the increase in Twitter Feeds in Canada over the past couple of years. Many consumer facing brands working in Canada have active Twitter feeds. Here are the more active accounts that are either Canadian Based or have a Canada specific Twitter Feed along with their Follower counts as of May 3, 2010:
Canadian Retailer Twitter Feeds – May 3, 2010
|Addition Elle||175||Nutrition House||301|
|Aldo Shoes||1,810||Pet Valu||816|
|Bath & Body Works Canada||164||PizzaPizza||757|
|Best Buy Canada Deals||5,398||Planet Organic||1,343|
|Birks Jewellers||840||President’s Choice (Loblaw)||343|
|Browns Shoes||753||Purdy’s Chocolates||426|
|Cineplex||224||RW & Co||443|
|Dairy Queen||77||Sears Canada||2,901|
|Empire Theatres||3,284||Shoppers Drug Mart||923|
|Fido Mobile||726||Subway Ontario||216|
|Future Shop||6,753||Sunrise Records||60|
|GameStop Canada||4,217||Suzy Shier||176|
|HMV||2,832||Taco Bell Canada||1,547|
|Home Depot Canada||768||The Body Shop Canada||664|
|IGA Québec||717||Tim Hortons||2,250|
|Jack Astor’s||255||ToysRUs Canada||42|
|Jean Machine||398||West 49||293|
|La Senza||1,782||(My local store – find yours here)|
|Mastermind Toys||861||Wireless Wave||222|
While the numbers are not massive, they are interesting to analyze. Not surprisingly, technology leads the way: Future Shop, Best Buy and GameStop show very high numbers, for example. Niche grocers Whole Foods and Planet Organic also have very high follower numbers considering that Planet Organic is a relatively small chain, and Whole Foods number represents one store. Remember that this list is mostly composed of people who have chased down a retailer and added it to a list. Not many of them highlight their Twitter accounts beyond an email or link on a webpage. This may very well represent a very dedicated demographic – or at the very least, one that is interested in the stores, the bands and what they are about.
Social media is certainly a growing opportunity for retailers and has grown leaps and bounds over the past couple of years. It will be interesting to see how it matures in Canada over the coming months and years and what we learn from it. So far it affords retailers an essentially unheard of opportunity – a virtually free marketing experiment.