I’m a big fan of blogs!  In fact, I enjoy reading it more than the traditional media.  It is more personal, informal and sometimes more intuitive.

I just wish that more Australian companies, especially the retail sector can find value in it.

Recently, I had a look at the following websites popular amongst the general consumers:

All these 7 sites did not have a blog or  a community network page integrated in their websites.  Woolworths and Coles have blogs but I had to search for it in Google. The most social media friendly among the 7 websites is David Jones.  It has a “Be Social” banner in its website that leads you to its Facebook page,  which  has a link to the “Fashion Hub“.   The Fashion Hub is a blog where you can find the latest David Jones fashion, new arrivals, trends and  style advice.

It is notable though that all of them have a Facebook page.  However, they haven’t fully embraced the marketing advantage of social media the way their US counterparts do.

A good example is MyKmart.com.  MyKmart Community is a growing but personalized online community consisting of vibrant individuals interested in sharing their opinions, ideas and thoughts.

  • It has a blog, dedicated pages for reviews, discussion, guides and a get involved page for community, ideas and polls.
  • It exemplifies social media in the retail sector because there is real communication between Kmart USA and its consumers.  It’s not about utilizing social media as just another avenue to place ads and market your products.
  • Most of the reviews, blog articles and discussions are from Kmart community members which makes it sincere and reliable…not just another sales pitch.

To get a better understanding of how Kmart utilizes social media, here are some excerpts from their About Us page:

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

“We want to hear from you to learn about what is working and what isn’t, with us and across all of your shopping experiences and relationships. So whether you are a loyal Sears, Kmart, Lands End or Craftsman shopper or perhaps have never made a trip to a Kmart, Sears, or any of our affiliates, MyKmart offers you the opportunity to tell your story and help us improve.”

YOUR PERSPECTIVE IS INVALUABLE

“Your voice counts! Always on your terms, members will be asked to share their thoughts and reactions about their shopping experiences. Online forums will enable members to communicate with one another and our employees. Whether it be designing a new virtual store, improving our service and selection, or offering you customized products relevant to your lifestyle and needs, we want to partner directly with you.”

WHAT DO I GET FOR PARTICIPATING?

“It is also an opportunity to get something in return. As part of the Community, you will have access to recommendations, reviews, expert help (from us and other community members), special forums to express your views and ideas as well as access to exclusive offers and promotions. In addition, for being an active member of Community, you will be eligible to win cash and merchandise prizes via sweepstakes that occur regularly throughout the year. “

As an Australian, I hate to admit it…but we are way behind our US counterparts in terms of utilizing digital and social media.  The Australian retail sector is at its lowest point due to several factors.  However, our economy is a lot better than the US.  We can’t always cry foul that the international online sales are crippling local businesses.  We need a stronger campaign than “Buy Australian”…it is about time that the retail sector listens to their consumers, establish a community and have an authentic dialogue.

Here is an insight of  “How Australians use the Internet  –latest market data” at roi.com.au

  • Social media dominates how Australians use the internet in 2010/2011
  • More Australians are using social media to critique brands, products and services
  • Increased used of mobile technology will lead to increased internet access

Given these data, if the Australian retail sector won’t fully embrace social media then they will trail behind their overseas counterparts.  Major international retailers such as Sears are now shipping internationally.   Pretty soon, if we are not going to adapt to the latest technological changes and marketing 3.0 evolution then we might as well close our shops.

But then again, it’s not too late.  Oroton, one of Australia’s famous brands is riding the waves of success by going global and embracing social media.  Watch out for my upcoming article as I review the Oroton success story!

Meanwhile, my dear Australian retailers…please don’t make it too hard for consumers like me to find your elusive blog.  Moreover, if you want us to know more about what’s happening in your stores and other offers you may have…it won’t hurt to listen and establish a dialogue to your customers.  After all, if we become friends then maybe I will choose you over the stranger in the next continent.

Cheers,

 

Photo: Flickr – the trial