Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market marketing chief Simon Uwins created a blog on the Fresh & Easy website prior to the grocer's opening its first stores in the Western U.S. The retailer used it to announce their first store openings as well, along with posting other news since then.
We thought (and still do) doing so was a great idea. Corporate blogs can in many ways not only be a great communication device for retailers to reach a wider audience They also can be sort of a digital extension of the retail storefront in terms of marketing, media relations, customer and employee communications.
However, just like retail storefronts that get neglected--which leads to all sorts of negative results--corporate blogs that get neglected can actually result in being a negative aspect of a retailer's business, rather than a positive one, which we feel they are when kept current and up to-date.
Such we feel is the current state of affairs on the Fresh & Easy corporate blog. The last posting on the blog--which we enjoyed--was on December 14, 2007, a full five weeks ago. Additionally, in the comments section of that post are four comments, three of which are questions to the blogger. None of the three questions have been answered by Mr. Uwins or members of his marketing staff.
It's not like nothing has happened since December 14, 2007. How about the Christmas and New Year's holiday's for starters: They're generally the two biggest shopping days of the year for grocery retailers. There must be at least one or two bits of news from the holiday season at the stores that Fresh & Easy could share with the world.
A few other things have happened since December 14, 2007 as well. For example: Many more Fresh & Easy stores have opened, Tesco had a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a San Francisco location that will be it's first confirmed Fresh & Easy store in Northern California, and Wal-Mart has decided to get into the small-format grocery business in Arizona and compete against Fresh & Easy. Those happenings are just for starters on the Fresh & Easy news front.
As we said in our opening paragraph, it's our belief the Fresh & Easy corporate blog is a great idea. However, when the bloggers don't respond to reader questions in the comment box, it suggests to us that the team isn't customer-service oriented. That's a bad reflection on store level associates who are striving to serve shoppers.
Additionally, when the blog goes without an update for five weeks, it makes us wonder what is up at Fresh & Easy HQ? We know the folks there must be super-busy. But how long does it take to write a little update on the blog at least once a week? Not long, is the answer to that question.
What we'd like to see happen over at the F&E blog:
>Update the blog with something new at least once a week.
>Post comments to the blog in a timely manner. We know for a fact that some comments aren't posted to the blog for weeks. The bloggers moderate the blog, which means comments don't go immediatly to it. That's fine, we do it ourselves for security reasons. We also make sure to post the comments within a day or two, three at the most. It's just common curtesy to do so; if a reader takes the time to read what you write, and to write a comment or ask a question, the least a blogger can do is post (or delete if it is offensive) those comments in a timely manner.
>Either answer comment questions or post a "no comment." This is customer service 101. Remember, your blog is an extension of your stores.
We're looking forward to seeing a brand new post on the Fresh & Easy corporate blog soon. We know there's lots of great stuff the marketing staff can share with the blog's readers. Also, we're looking forward to seeing the reader comment questions answered soon as well.
The blog is a great idea, as we said above. We support it. However, great initial ideas that aren't followed-up on and nurtured can become bad ones in no time flat.
But just like the grocery store that went neglected, and soon lost most of its customers do to its lack of attention, a corporate blog can be a positive force for a business, or a negative one.
Communication is a multi-channel phenomenon. When one of the two channels--the reader in this case--isn't being responded to, they stop reading the blog. It isn't hard to assume they also aren't likely to shop in that retail blogger's stores either--nor suggest the retailer to his or her friends and family.