Does it sound contradictory to think local on the world wide web? We all want to sell to as wide an audience as possible – and there is no wider audience than the web – but equally, customers are individuals and there’s times when they needed to be treated as such. Although we’re huge advocates of consistent branding and the confidence it gives customers to buy from you, it’s also a real shame when the personality of your company is lost. So how can you inject personality into your website?

Nationwide wine retailer, Majestic Wine is taking a really interesting approach. Even though they operate a full ecommerce site, they’re also savvy enough to realise that the one thing you can’t do via the web is taste the wine you’re buying. For the kind of enthusiastic wine lovers who are likely to buy in bulk, the only way to do this is to visit their local store. Rather than using their brand to stifle personality in their stores, Majestic are building their brand around their knowledgeable, diverse staff and using their website to support by giving each store their own profile page. Stores are in control of their own profiles and can add information about wine tasting events, staff, news and a Twitter feed.

Their ecommerce director Richard Weaver said, “It’s all about bringing the personality of each store to life online. It’s really important to us at Majestic that our staff engage with our customers. We want wine lovers to flock to their local Majestic store where they can enjoy tastings and benefit from the expertise of our brilliant staff. Each one of our stores is distinctive, principally because they are staffed by different people, and we embrace that lack of uniformity – we see it as a very good thing and we want all of our customers, whichever channel they use, to get to know the personality of their local branch. That’s what this initiative is all about – how can we use our website to help each individual store reach out to local wine lovers and build a community with those customers?”

Food (and drink) for thought? We think so. If you have retail premises around the country where customers value your employee’s knowledge and advice, why not consider doing something similar on your site?