I was talking to a few people in retail the other day about how eCommerce has forever changed the retail landscape and the way people today go about shopping.

We all agreed that it's been one of the key innovations that's come from the early days of the internet and as we now know has upended many a laggard in the retail sector around the world.

The conversation was mainly around how today the whole industry spends most of its time obsessing about ways to get customers to the eCommerce website, ensuring that the onsite journey is easy, and hoping that journey turns into a commercial sale. 

So much so that most websites (mobile and Apps) try and automate everything in order they can reduce any real human interaction which in turn can keep cost down.

BUT, it got me thinking - is this all at the cost of commoditizing a void between real human interaction without the building a relationship?.

With the huge growth in eCommerce I think we've subconsciously become disconnected from the customer. 

Every bit of evidence suggest that whilst brands obsess about getting us to the site and then to the checkout in a friction-less manner they've forgotten to 'listen'.

Its all very 'functional and transactional', it's bland, it's solitary, and as a result has it managed to isolate brand and customer?.

As we've slowly forgotten to 'listen and engage' I believe we have managed to disconnect ourselves from the social aspect of shopping that became so enjoyable back in the day. 

Would you have the same conversation with someone you just met as you might have with someone you've known for sometime?

Rhetorical questions always sound pretty dumb don't they?

If it's such a rhetorical question why is that many brands seem to forget this fundamental principle when it comes to nurturing consumers in the online space, and in particular on 'social media'.

For brands to be successful they need to reinforce why the brand personality fits with the intended customer, and this includes recognising where each party is in that 'getting to know you' journey.

If I'm looking around for a new car there's certainly no shortage of choice, they all get you from A to B, they all have 4 wheels and varying number of passenger capacity.

So why is it we choose one brand of car over another?

Price has something to do with it, but great retailers understand the principles of a pricing structure based on;

  • Good
  • Better
  • Best

Utilising a price structure simply allows the consumer the choice of 'buying' into their brand of choice based on how 'relatable' the brand is to them. 

Many people confuse building a brand with building awareness. Making the right people aware of you is a big part of brand marketing, of course, but it’s not the only thing you have to achieve. There’s far more to it than that.

The art of building a brand involves moving people through several different stages of consideration, having different conversations at different moments, and with different purposes in mind. 

There’s a lot of nuance to how you address the varied audiences that will decide the success of your products, and the objectives that you have in mind when you do.

Today It seems that the most relatable retail brands have taken a serious look at 'social media' and chosen to leverage it in order to build a tribe, get to know that tribe, listen to that tribe, educate and inform that tribe.