Amazon has certainly made a lot of headlines in the last few weeks. First, it was because they filed a lawsuit against more than 1,000 individuals for posting fake reviews on their site. This time, it’s because the eCommerce giant opened a physical storefront in Seattle last week, a good reminder that there’s still value in brick and mortar — and that reviews can be a powerful tool for in-store purchases.
The Value of a Physical Storefront
Amazon joins a long list of formerly online-only retailers that have opted to open brick and mortar stores…Warby Parker, Rent the Runway and Bonobos, just to name a few. These retailers recognize that even though consumers today are glued to their mobile devices, there’s still tremendous value in having a physical storefront.
For starters, shopping in-person allows for a multi-sensory experience where consumers can experience a product firsthand prior to purchase. They can feel the fabric of a dress, smell a perfume, or hear the sound quality of a pair of headphones before handing over their credit card. Plus, in-person experiences humanize a brand and allow for personal connections, which can help brands build relationships and loyalty.
Some might think brick and mortar is dying because it has no appeal for young, connected consumers, but this isn’t the case. PowerReviews recently surveyed more than 1,000 young shoppers age 13-18 and found that while nearly all Centennials do their shopping research online, 46% prefer to make the actual purchase in store.
Rather than competing against each other, your brand’s online initiatives — coupled with your physical store locations — can work together to create a consistent experience across all channels that’ll bring your shoppers back again and again.
The Value of Reviews In-Store
One thing that’s made Amazon so popular is the sheer number of reviews available across nearly limitless categories. Amazon recognizes that reviews are a powerful tool for driving sales, which is evidenced in the way their new storefront is arranged. Book are arranged in review-focused categories like “4.8 Stars & Above.”
And under nearly every book, shoppers will find a review card with a star rating, a review from someone who purchased the item from Amazon, and a barcode. Visitors scan the barcode using the Amazon app, and they’re taken to the item’s product page, complete with reviews and pricing.
Amazon is on to something. Shoppers aren’t just using reviews when they purchase online. They’re also turning to reviews to inform their in-store purchases. In fact, a recent PowerReviews survey found that around 70% of shoppers would like to access product ratings and reviews while in store. This points to the importance of providing shoppers with the information they’re looking for — regardless of whether they choose to shop online or in store. This starts with having mobile-friendly reviews available on your website and mobile apps so customers can easily find the information they’re looking for on their phones — even when they’re coming to a store to make the purchase. A best practice is also to display reviews in store, whether through print advertisements or digital displays.
The bottom line is, shoppers crave information. If you don’t make this information easily accessible to consumers — wherever they are — you’ll lose them to someone who will.