Consumer Reviews a Main Reason for Omni-Channel Shopping
The need for product reviews when shopping only online is fairly obvious. Obscurity runs rampant when a product can’t be seen and felt. Size, material and quality can be hard to ascertain based on photos and a manufacturer’s description alone.
Consumer reviews, therefore, become the crux of the buying process.
Because of this, showrooming was once the most common multi-touch practice of shoppers. They liked to first see the product in the store to garner quality, and then shop online so as to get the best price.
Today, more Americans practice webrooming, or “reverse showrooming”, instead. This is the exact opposite phenomenon, where consumers educate themselves about a product online first, and then complete the purchase in-store where the item is tangible.
With 69% of Americans webrooming and 46% showrooming, we are seeing that price is becoming less of a concern and ensuring the product meets expectations is at the forefront. Consumers rely heavily on product reviews to determine these points:
- Is the product of good quality?
- Does it do what it claims to?
- Was sizing true to description?
- Did materials match expectations?
- Were all components working?
Webrooming or showrooming, there is no denying that product reviews are a big reason why consumers have multiple touch points before purchasing. Omnichannel shopping is here to stay.
Retailers and brands are taking note, and implementing omnichannel retail strategies of their own. And the really smart ones are incorporating consumer product reviews. Here are two examples of retailers incorporating product reviews into their omni-channel retailing strategies.
1. Target Displays “Guest Rating” on In-Store Cards
Review stars are the most basic, “at-a-glance” way a consumer can gauge the opinion of the masses. Those five yellow stars have more power than all the salesmen in the world. Just ask Target, who is starting to use reviews as a part of its overall omni-channel strategy. Target would hope that displaying the average review stars from the website would prevent a consumer with minor concerns from having to research it online.
By adding one of the review quotes (“I’m so happy with the design I bought two sets! Made with quality material.”), they hope to mitigate concern and assure quality. This is a company which clearly understands the power of product reviews.
2. REI App Allows Scan to See Reviews
REI has a different way of unifying shoppers online, offline and on various devices: with its app. No need to leave the building to do research and find out what consumers think. Simply scan the barcode of a product using the app on your smartphone and view vital details including reviews.
This is a great way for consumers to quickly and easily poll those who have already used and experienced the product in question. Quite often, consumers have different considerations and uses of a product, even beyond what the manufacturer could have built it for. No amount of top down messaging from the brand or retailer can replace this type of peer to peer communication about a product.
Reviews’ Impact on Brands & Manufacturers
Let’s take an example to understand the impact reviews have on a brand’s bottom line.
Sales of a key new clothing line for one of our clients (let’s call them Zephyr Clothing Company) took a nose dive in October. This made no sense considering the marketing dollars behind the campaign and the popularity of similar lines in the past.
Thankfully, they had just signed up for the Channel Signal Product Review Analytics Dashboard. Along with our analysts, the company dove into their reviews and was able to determine that, across different e-commerce sites, time and time again, customers were complaining about an elastic band that was too tight. Low and behold, Product Development had switched their elastic to save cost, but the outcome proved detrimental.
Zephyr was able to quickly switch the elastic back to their old source and get the new product line through their distribution channel. They knew to update and highlight the messaging about the elastic on their site. They also knew exactly where to respond to the negative product reviews that were affecting shoppers’ decisions. Now, shoppers are able to read that while the elastic was previously a problem, the company islistening and has solved it.
Customers want to be assured that their thoughtful feedback is being heard. In fact, this type of quick response to customer feedback is exactly what turns a potential PR nightmare into a lifetime customer.
How Brands Can Be Proactive About Reviews
Retailers like Target and REI are finally recognizing the power of product reviews in the consumer buying process. Smart brands and manufacturers have been measuring product reviews for years, but often using manual, one-off processes that don’t allow for easy measurement and impactful action.
Today more than ever, brands need a service that pulls all of their reviews from multiple websites into one analytics platform.
Channel Signal’s platform does just this, allowing brands to see their review trends by:
- Retailer – Such as Amazon, Walmart, Zappos, Backcountry and more.
- Product – Which product was the worst reviewed? Which products have mentions about “fit”, “breaking” or “quality”?
- Category – i.e. “how is our boot line being reviewed compared to our casual shoes?”
- Competitor – What are customers saying about my direct competitor and how can we use this to our advantage?
- Keyword – Are people mentioning “missing parts” or “itchy fabric”? Learn of new trending issues and monitor existing ones.
If people were spreading rumors about you that were true and causing you to lose friends, you’d listen to what they were and work on changing those things about yourself. If people were spreading rumors about you that were untrue and causing you to lose friends, you’d work to change that perception about yourself.
Product reviews for your brand are no different. What are you doing to listen to and measure the opinions that are running rampant about your products across the web?
As omnichannel shopping becomes the new norm, Product Review Analytics is vital for brands to get a modern understanding of product reviews, the “missing link” that is swaying shoppers and sales numbers each and every day.