I had an unpleasant experience at Trader Joe’s this weekend. The manager’s response was so lethargic that I decided to tweet @traderjoes about it to see if there would at least be some sort of response from HQ.
That was on my mobile phone so, when I got home, I checked the @traderjoes account on Twitter and found nothing.
Is Trader Joes really not on Twitter? It seems to be true. There is no mention on their site. Subsequent searches on Twitter reveal the same answer. If they are on Twitter, they’re doing a great job at hiding it.
I know it sounds self-indulging, pretentious, precious even, to expect that every brand is on Twitter and engaging with their customers. But seriously, this is Trader Joes. I just described their target market (myself included, I’m sure). Trader Joe’s customers are on Twitter and talking about their company, so why isn’t Trader Joe’s listening to them?
(By the way, did you know that Trader Joe’s isn’t owned by a bunch of hippies? They are owned by Aldi’s, the discount supermarket chain that operates primarily in low-income neighborhoods in the US.)
I decided to write about this because there is a bigger theme here. At Ginzametrics, we spend a lot of time analyzing the needs of (and building products for) national and global brands. One of our key areas of interest is large retail chains because within those companies, there is great potential to combine massive economies of scale with local, one-on-one brand engagement.
The opportunities are endless, but Twitter represents perhaps the cheapest, easiest way for chains to deploy some new real-time, effective CRM activities to their entire chain of stores. Five years from now (if not sooner) retail store managers are going to be responsible for not only the daily operations of their stores but also for managing the brand at a local level. (Look for more posts on this in the future.)
If you run communications, marketing, or operations at a retail chain, you should be focused on a strategy that helps your store employees engage with your customers everywhere.
Train your store managers about social media. Teach them how to monitor feedback and encourage the use of per-store hashtags so that customers can provide direct feedback to specific stores. More importantly, help your store managers understand how to respond to many different types of feedback.
You can create store specific accounts or use group Twitter tools to let your store managers respond to customers from your main account. Figure out what works best in your organization, but getting started on this is going to be a critical brand strategy, not least because your competitors (both local and national) are certainly going to.