Retail consultant Pete Doyle says taking a similar approach to social media as Hillier Garden Centres' is the only way forward for retailers such as Argos, which announced this week that will move from being a catalogue company to being a beacon of retailing using new technology.
Doyle said Argos' announcement that it planned to close 75 stores amounted to a "sad day for retailing, and is another nail in the coffin for the future of the high-street.
He said: "The closure of 75 Argos stores is another sad day for retailing in the UK. The British high street will only flourish if retailers can integrate social media engagement with high street operations. The future of the web is local. Retailers must integrate social media tools with local marketing initiatives in order to drive store footfall."
SocialRetail managing director Doyle is behind 'The Conversation Plan', a social media methodology that teaches high street retailers how to integrate social media with high street operations in order to drive store footfall and sales.
In early 2012 SocialRetail began working with Hillier Garden Centres. After a three-store pilot, The Conversation Plan was rolled out across all 13 stores and turned shop floor workers into "social media brand ambassadors".
Within five months Hiller Garden Centres had a reach of over 1.7million, an army of "staff brand ambassadors" and a growing online following.