Giving consumers and experience or customer service something worth sharing with their friends is at the heart of retailers’ success.

I’m a big fan of social media, but apparently for us to share, re-pin or re-tweet our favourite material, the content has to be either entertaining, newsworthy, charity-related, provide a discount or in some way make our lives easier.

If the things you’re posting don’t tick these boxes then you shouldn’t be surprised if your stakeholder engagement is lukewarm at best.

The same criteria that apply to social media content are true for the products we sell and the retail experience we deliver – and I would add surprising and delightful to the aforementioned list. What’s important is that these criteria also determine whether our customers choose to enthuse about us to their colleagues, family and friends.

The European Common Agricultural Policy was much criticised in the 1980s for creating “butter mountains” and “wine lakes” – an excess of food and drink that couldn’t be released to the open market as prices would tumble.

Heaven forbid that anyone casts a similar eye over the legion of agencies and copywriters creating a “content mountain” for our brands: stuff that will only ever be read by a Google algorithm.

The other day I discovered a new business called Enclothed – a personal shopping service for men that don’t have the time or the inclination to go clothes shopping. They send you things they think you’ll like, you only pay for the items you keep and the whole process is totally free of charge.

It is a great example of a retail service designed to make life easier and something customers will share with their friends.

Last week a friend told me about how wonderful the customer service was at DFS – something that came as a bit of a surprise. What’s incredible about that feedback is how such a simple thing can challenge your perception of a business – as it did mine – from one offering “get your cheap deal now”, to a retailer giving their customers a great experience.

But if you’re looking for a retail purchase with added entertainment value, try Iceland’s mince pies.

An unfortunate choice of typeface makes the ‘c’ look like a ‘g’. Those of you that now want a box, just to amuse your friends, prove the point.

Of course, recognising that a retail purchase is as much about the accompanying story of how or where you got it, as it is about the product itself, is something that we’ve always been conscious of.

It’s one of the reasons we have Ann Summers parties. It’s also why many of our stores have peep-holes in the changing rooms, so you can give your partner waiting outside a glimpse of what’s in store later. If that doesn’t get him up from the shop chair and off his phone, nothing will.

So rather than looking to run a GWP (gift with purchase) promotion in-store this Christmas, maybe it’s time to add an AWP (anecdote with purchase) to your retail marketing calendar. Create a story around every purchase and it will be re-told again and again by your customers.

  • Jacqueline Gold is chief executive of Ann Summers