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‘Ghosting’ Online Customers Costs Retailers Big-Time: Study

Such silent snubbing undermines brand equity, discoverability and revenue growth to the tune of $2.4 billion a year





Retailers are “ghosting” more than half of all customers online who give feedback, ask questions or leave reviews. Such inaction translates into a $2.4 billion annual loss for the U.S. retail industry.

Those are the major findings of SOCi Inc.’s “2023 Local Visibility Index.” In that audit of 588 retailers across 39 industry categories spanning 106,000 total locations, SOCi found that the average brand ignores 54 percent of online feedback, reviews, and questions across platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp. In fact, 92 percent of customer questions posted on retailer Google profiles, for example – including queries like “Are you open late on Christmas Eve?” and “Do you sell golf equipment?” – go unanswered.

“Retailer ‘ghosting’ is an alarming phenomenon with serious implications for brand reputation, customer loyalty, and online visibility,” said Monica Ho, Chief Marketing Officer of SOCi, a cloud-based co-marketing company. “When retailers ignore their customers online, they inadvertently send a message that the customer experience isn’t a priority. It’s akin to retail employees ignoring shoppers in-store, and this type of behavior has a significant impact on revenue and sales.”

SOCi discovered that failing to address complaints or questions, or not thanking consumers for their feedback, results in digital “invisibility” across search engines. Search engines like Google consider engagement factors, such as query, feedback, and review responses, when ranking online listings. By actively engaging with customers and being responsive, retailers can optimize search engine rankings, supporting brand awareness and in-store sales.

However, by ghosting consumers and ignoring their reviews, retailers miss out on these benefits, limiting their online discoverability and negatively impacting their overall performance in the digital marketplace. According to SOCi’s analysis, this neglect comes at a steep price, costing multi-location retailers $58,000 in sales per location.

“Addressing online customer feedback – ranging from questions to reviews – should be an integral component of a retailer’s overall omnichannel digital marketing strategy,” added Ho. “Thankfully, AI and automation present a game-changing opportunity for retailers and marketers to tackle the issue of ghosting customers online. By implementing these technologies, they can deliver timely and personalized responses to feedback, reviews, or questions, at scale, while enhancing customer satisfaction and fostering a more positive online experience.”

SOCi found that retailers who are responsive and visible generate almost two times the year-over-year revenue than their non-communicating counterparts, drive four times as many consumer actions through online channels and generate 149 percent more engagement on social media.

Click here for more from the SOCi study.

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