When completing an audit of a large group of independent businesses and grading their online presence (for a social media award) I came across a company with virtually no online presence.
A few years back I’d had a chat with the business owner and asked about his lack of website. He said then that they didn’t need it, that they were using Facebook to promote their business. However, the only online presence I could find was a Facebook page with the most recent post from 2018.
On contacting the business owner to ask what had changed, the response I got was, “We are a small company of three people, we’re busy and we don’t have the time to spend updating Facebook.”
The business is a retail travel shop based in Ireland, in a town with a population of just over 9,000 people and one other competitor located on the same street. While footfall fell some years back, the owner is well known in the town with most of the business coming in via the phone.
In the previous chat I’d had with the owner he’d admitted bookings from the younger demographic in the town were sparse due to their preference to book online. His business was therefore very local and dependent on existing relationships.
The Demise of Thomas Cook
Following the recent collapse of Thomas Cook, it was suggested an outdated business model which relied on too many high street shops and their related costs was a contributing factor. According to ABTA, in the UK, only one in seven will visit a high street shop to book a holiday and they tend to be over 65.
So while the Thomas Cook brand was familiar and much loved, it simply wasn’t enough. With consumers more internet savvy and rival companies with a stronger online presence than Thomas Cook, we witnessed the sad demise of a company that had been around for 178 years.
Is Brand Loyalty Dead?
While there are many who believe brand loyalty is dead, a report from Accenture disputes that stating, “Millennials can be exceptionally loyal customers—provided they feel they’ve been treated right.”
Part of being treated right for Millennials is offering them a seamless buying experience across channels meaning they want to move from their Smartphone to IPAD to visiting the shop to touch/feel the product they’ve researched. Plus they want promotions that are personalised and targeted at them. And when they buy, they want the product delivered to their door.
So what we’re seeing is a huge shift in shopping behaviours. For some retailers the shift might well be too great to meet. For those like the small business in Ireland, who remain concentrated on the now rather than preparing for the future, the risks unfortunately are high.
(First shared in the SmartLiving Algarve Magazine Winter edition 2019)