The digital mobile economy is forcing a significant amount of change on business owners, especially in the retail sector. The most obvious of these is the need for an online presence both inside and outside of the physical store – but there is a new development that tends to get overlooked because it sits at the bottom of a page. These are consumer product reviews.
In the Mobile Retail Report, which assessed and analyzed current levels of mobile technology adoption among leading brands. One of the key areas of the report is"Search and Share." Consumers have become comfortable with the concept of searching online for products, prices, and alternatives.
Because online search shares something in common with traditional paper-based catalogs, it has been comparatively easy for retail management to understand the importance of offering similar catalog features online.
Building Trust through Others' Opinions
A more alien concept for retailers is the "sharing" component. The idea of customers sharing thoughts and opinions is relatively new to the retail business. For anyone who grew up before social media, any issues customers had with their purchases were handled through customer service, either in person or over the phone. For average citizens in those days, the only opportunity for a review or feedback was a letter to the editor in the local paper.
People are social by nature, but another highly significant component comes from trust. People look to others for guidance. They will place their trust in the words and actions of others, and this can be a highly influential element of any relationship.
Consumers look for sales associates who they can trust during the buying process, but before that happens, they are likely to turn to their peers – others who have shopped at the same store or who have purchased the same item. They read the reviews left by these individuals and give them great credence. These reviews are a dominant element of the customer journey and the integrity of the brand.
Everyone on the Same Page
The power of consumer reviews is evident in some successful sites like Yelp, where customers share their experiences with businesses in all areas. These reviews can be highly influential, which is why it is essential for retailers with an established online presence to encourage the same types of postings at the foot of specific product pages within their sites.
A study by Bright Local determined that 88 percent of respondents had read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. Specifically, for clothing related retailers, 30 percent of customers had referred to reviews before making a shopping decision.
That is why the Mobile Retail Report suggests that retailers enable product ratings and reviews, as"Shoppers want to see the opinions of previous buyers. Candid ratings and reviews help them think about and visualize what it would be like to own that product. By setting expectations realistically, costly returns can be avoided."
The Power of Both Good and Bad Reviews
Reviews add value in two ways. Obviously, good reviews carry their own halo of credibility and goodwill. However, bad reviews offer the retailer an opportunity to publicly resolve a complaint and demonstrate to a wide audience a willingness to do what is needed to deliver satisfaction.
The message is a vital component that must be carefully encouraged, maintained, and scrutinized by those in retail who wish to capture the loyalty of the buying public.
To see where today's retailer's stand with their mobile capabilities around search and share, download the Mobile Retail Report.