With the never-ending gold rush of digital branding and social media marketing, we should have seen this coming: People (yes, as in actual live human beings) are making a comeback. Call it a reverse tech revolution, call it nostalgia — but whatever you call it, big brands are pushing for face-to-face interaction.
Albertsons, still one of the country’s biggest grocery store chains, announced this week it was dumping its self checkout lanes. The grocer says they want to do the unthinkable: actually speak to their customers in person.
“We just want the opportunity to talk to customers more,” Albertsons spokeswoman Christine Wilcox told msnbc.com earlier this week.
The company says it also wants to create more job opportunities and hours for its existing employees and the elimination of self checkouts will help.
While our bread and butter comes from “doing it digitally,” we wondered if Albertsons isn’t on to something here. By bucking the trend of no human contact, is the chain boldly reinventing its brand as an old-timey grocery store, or are they shooting themselves in the foot?
While we think Albertsons’ attempt to resuscitate traditional customer service is a risky one, ultimately it could pay off for the chain. If the grocer smartly integrates online and social media interaction with the hands-on, in-store customer service, it could really be taking the grocery store into the next millennium. After all, there is no reason why online engagement and the real world should be mutually exclusive from one another. Current moves by companies like Albertsons suggest that today’s consumer wants equal parts digital and in-person.
We think a good marketing strategy, online or otherwise, should incorporate both. But let’s hear what you guys think. Do you want more face time with your brands or are you happy to keep the machines? Tell us in the comments section below!