Today’s customers are spoilt for choice with e-commerce players going out of their way to woo them. While this may be good news for customers but it has forced the e-commerce players to find new and innovative ways of customer engagement and customer loyalty.
Anisha Motwani, Marketing and Digital Strategist at Max Group of Companies states, “The best brands are built on telling human stories.”
Stories are as old as mankind, but technology is changing things. It's not just about more content on more devices, though it is about the chance to bring narratives out of the screen into our lives.
So, what steps are the companies taking to ensure a good customer-seller relationship? The e-commerce websites are going the extra mile to ensure a steady and meaningful relationship with their customers and sellers. It is no more just selling and delivering products, but also the effort that goes behind it to make certain that a customer is happy.
Company blogs, the new face of customer connect...
Company blogs are evolving into an engaging digital media platform with customer connect at the heart of everything. Moreover, given the power that customers have these days, thanks to platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it is important to keep evolving and innovating.
Such blogs by the Indian e-commerce players may not entirely be a rare occurrence, but a website solely dedicated to customer-seller stories and company news, is not something you come across every day.
Launched in October 2015, Flipkart’s ‘Flipkart Stories’ is not just another blog, but as they promoted it; it is a ‘digital media website’ styled like an editorial platform with stories by the customers and sellers with occasional company news thrown in. Flipkart Stories’ Twitter handle already has 11.5 thousand followers, whereas its Facebook account has over 25,700 followers---an undeniable testimony of its popularity.
When asked about this initiative, Flipkart’s Head- Corporate Communications, Senjam Raj Sekhar said, “We believe the company blogs are now history. Corporate blogs with their templatised format, dry first person accounts and anodyne narratives have a very niche audience. Companies now need to tell stories that will appeal to a larger readership. In today’s globalised media environment, consumers have virtually unlimited reading and viewing options. Why will an average reader turn to a company’s editorial platform unless the stories are extremely well told, engaging and authentic?”
Manan Vyas, Associate Product Manager, Nearbuy, is a customer of Flipkart and someone who has been following this new website regularly, he adds, “At the moment, as the concept is fairly new, it’s difficult to say how Flipkart Stories will help me as a Flipkart customer. As someone working in the tech sector, I would be interested in Flipkart Stories if it carries interesting accounts about the sector - innovations, new developments and related issues. However, if the entire website is only about Flipkart, I would not be as interested.”
Power of brand narrative...
On being asked about the purpose of this initiative Sekhar elaborated, “While Flipkart is an incredible story; there are so many stories within Flipkart that need to be told – stories about our people, partners, sellers and customers. With Flipkart stories, it is our aim to tell the story of this home-grown Indian technology brand which is changing the lives of millions across India. Our intention is to tell the Flipkart story in a compelling manner while maintaining authenticity and objectivity. Our readers visit our platform because we give them a good mix of fascinating human stories as well as information that they can use. It is our intent to build a credible and trusted platform that readers can rely on for stories about Flipkart.”
Companies are focusing on creating stories that connect with the audiences rather than giving out information. “For storytelling, it is difficult to create skill sets for content, it comes from the heart,” said Subhrangshu Neogi Director, Head- Group Marketing & Brand Religare. This makes the audience feel more in touch with companies that were previously operating on a Business-to-Consumer model.
“This initiative will surely help the sellers to connect with their customers and also provide easy media reach. As a seller, it is a platform for us to tell our story and how Flipkart has helped us change the dynamics of the way we cater to our customers,” said Gargi Ruparelia, Brand Manager of Sweet Dreams Lounge Wear, who is also a seller on Flipkart.
The platform also publishes brand-related stories with authenticity being the only condition. In fact, one of Flipkart’s major restructuring news (Co-founder Binny Bansal replacing Sachin Bansal as CEO) was broken on Flipkart Stories’ Twitter handle.
Other players in the Indian e-commerce industry too have content platforms in the form of company blogs, one such is Snapdeal’s ‘Snapdeal Diaries.’ Their social media presence comes close to Flipkart’s with 7,395 Facebook followers and 2.7 thousand Twitter followers. It is being described as a "new platform to have a conversation with you, get insights into what we do, and meet our people to listen to their stories" on Twitter. While Amazon India’s blog delivers updates on products, the website and appealing content. Fashion e-commerce websites like Myntara also have their blogs which scoop out fashion related articles about a certain product or brand.
Kausambhi Majumdar, a user of Snapdeal.com on being asked about Snapdeal Diaries, said, “I was not aware that e-commerce sites like Snapdeal have blogs of their own. And even if I did, I would not consciously go and read them unless they pop up in the search results of some product I'm looking for. As a consumer, I am more interested in browsing through and buying the products on these sites. However, the content does seem engaging.”
At a time when you can easily put out Tweets and Facebook posts to lodge a complaint and let the world know of the dealings of the companies, with the potential to create viral response from a wider audience, it is an absolute necessity to indulge in social media practices that warrant a positive customer response. The trend is here, but let us see if it is here to stay!