Recently, I led a webinar featuring Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru on Digital Strategies to Improve the In-Store Experience. I’d like to share six insights and three recommendations on how you can drive traffic and sales in physical stores by extending your digital strategies to the in-store experience.

  1. Retail is more competitive than ever. The number of online and physical stores has risen dramatically– by more than 1 million!– since 2000 so competition for traffic and sales is fierce.
  2. Most retail business is still done in physical stores. While ecommerce is increasing both in overall sales and as  a percentage of total sales, most of the money gets spent in physical stores. Smart retailers are leveraging digital strategies to convert more shoppers online and in-store.
  3. The Mobile Mind Shift is creating opportunities for retailers. People engage with their phones 100 times a day. They use phones not only to search and shop online, but to help them locate physical stores and help them shop in-store.
  4. Ratings and reviews are in the top 5 areas of mobile investments. Understanding the power of ratings and reviews to drive traffic and increase sales online and in-store, retailers are ensuring ratings and reviews are mobile friendly and are including them in their mobile applications. SMS is a technology that everyone has access to regardless of their mobile platform and everyone knows how to text. Make it easy for consumers to access reviews via text, website, or app.

    Consumers want reviews in store.
    Consumers want reviews in store.
  5. If you don’t provide reviews, Amazon will. Customers in-store consider review necessary for their in-store shopping experience. If a retailer doesn’t provide reviews, consumers will go elsewhere for them. Keep consumers on your property– digital and physical– with reviews.
  6. Reviews in-store will drive sales. The same way that reviews have a direct impact on increasing online conversion, shoppers are more likely to purchase in-store if they have access to helpful online reviews. Retailers know this and are making reviews available not only via mobile, but through physical signs and product tags, kiosks, digital displays, and tablets in dressing rooms. They’re experimenting with hyper-relevance to push reviews to consumers based on their location and personal history.

    Reviews drive in-store sales.
    Reviews drive in-store sales.

Based on these drivers, we recommend three actions you can take to improve your in-store performance with reviews:

  1. Ensure your website is mobile friendly. There are lots of options to bring reviews in-store (see #6), but today the best way to reach customers is through their phone. Make sure your website and reviews are mobile-friendly to help in-store shoppers. A mobile-friendly site is also essential for SEO.
  2. Add reviews to your mobile app. If you are investing in a mobile app, make sure users can read and write reviews in the app. If your app makes it easy for your customers to write reviews, you’ll increase the content that drives traffic and conversion better than any other.
  3. Add reviews to your digital touchpoints in-store. Make review content accessible in any digital touchpoints you have in-store with consumers or associates: kiosks, tablets, or digital displays. You work so hard to generate high quality content: make sure your consumers can access it when they need it!

    Babies R Us and Toys R Us include reviews in their registry scanner.
    Babies R Us and Toys R Us include reviews in their registry scanner.

For more details on any of these, check out the full webinar recording.

Customization

Pre-built integration makes deployment of PowerReviews consumer engagement technology faster, easier for Demandware clients

demandware logoCHICAGO – April 27, 2015 –PowerReviews, a leading provider of ratings, reviews and question-and-answer technology, today announced an updated integration cartridge for Demandware and its continued commitment to the Demandware LINK Technology Partnership program. With the PowerReviews Integration for Demandware, clients can quickly and easily implement the PowerReviews suite of services to collect, display and syndicate ratings and reviews. “Proven an essential resource for consumers as they shop online, the very presence of ratings and reviews can turn browsers into confident buyers,” said Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews. “With the PowerReviews Integration, Demandware clients can more easily collect ratings and reviews and leverage that user-generated content to drive traffic, increase sales and uncover insights to improve the products and merchandise mix.” PowerReviews powers ratings, reviews and Q&A solutions that are easy to implement and customize.

The integration provides pre-built connectors enabling Demandware clients to quickly be in production to:

    • Create and manage the Review Display on the client’s site by processing the PowerReviews content bundle
    • Fully integrate SEO components
    • Provide sales impact metrics of social activity via PowerReviews  Social Measurement tool by automatically placing beacons on checkout pages
    • Enable the initial and ongoing reviews gathering process by automatically creating and submitting daily product and order feeds to PowerReviews

“PowerReviews is committed to working with best-in-class solution providers like Demandware to extend our services to a variety of merchants, brands and retailers and best equip them to compete in the competitive e-commerce marketplace,” said Moog.

“As a cloud-native solution, similar to Demandware, PowerReviews understands the importance of delivering innovative, flexible and scalable solutions to merchants” said Tom Griffin, SVP, Corporate Development at Demandware.“We’re excited to offer our clients easy integration to a consumer engagement solution that empowers them with the knowledge to improve their products and build trusting relationships with their customers.”

The Demandware LINK Technology Partner Program provides Demandware clients with a rich of set of pre-built integrations to cutting-edge commerce technologies and applications that can unlock revenue generating opportunities and enhance the brand experience. By reducing the cost and complexity of integrations, Demandware LINK allows retailers to adopt innovative third-party technologies quickly and cost-effectively, allowing them to accelerate time to market and realize a faster return on their investment.

About PowerReviews PowerReviews delivers software that more than 1,000 brands and retailers use to collect, display and syndicate reviews on more than 5,000 websites. An essential resource for consumers as they search and shop online and in-store, reviews drive traffic, increase sales and create actionable insights to improve products and services. With a syndication network that reaches more than 500 million in-market shoppers each month, PowerReviews delivers more reviews to more consumers. And we make it easier than anyone else. For more information, visit www.powerreviews.com.

AppleWatch_v2

If you’ve ever tried to look for reviews of iPods, iPhones or Macbooks – you may have noticed that Apple doesn’t collect or host reviews on its site. So with all the excitement around the Apple Watch, we were curious – what would a review snapshot for the Apple Watch actually look like?

About a dozen journalists and tech reviewers were lucky enough to get receive an Apple Watch in advance of its release and test how it actually performed in their everyday lives. We analyzed 12 first-hand reviews of the watch looking for the most commonly cited pros, cons and best uses.

While just about everyone could agree that the watch was a fashionable accessory with a great notification center, the reviewers weren’t all on the same page with many other aspects of the watch such as battery life, currently available apps or speed.

Overall, the reaction to the Apple Watch was lukewarm with many reviewers suggesting consumers wait for the second generation of the device. As consumers start to get their hands on the watch, Apple stands to gain an immense amount of insight from tapping into their feedback.

 

Yesterday (4/21/2015), Google announced the rollout of a long anticipated worldwide change to its search algorithm, specifically targeting searches from mobile devices. Google calls it the “Mobile Friendly Update”, while industry pundits have a more affectionate title: “Mobilegedden”.

Page quality has always been a focal point for Google. Most famously, Google’s PageRank score takes into account domain authority, page content, site speed, and user experience design. The recent search algorithm update takes all of these principles and applies them to the end-to-end mobile experience.

The number of sites set to be impacted are unknown right now… Forrester Research estimates that 62% of enterprise sites could not pass the mobile-friendly test today. Market research company Portent ran a test on 25,000 sites in late March 2015 and found 40% would fail. Whatever the true number ends up being, mobile should be a top 3 priority for your team going forward, and PowerReviews can help you get there.

3 Ways PowerReviews can help you be mobile-friendly:

1.)  Responsive Design

PowerReviews has user experience at the forefront of our focus. We offer an out-of-the-box responsive stylesheet to optimize your product-detail-page review content display and collection. This CSS gives you the power to offer a responsive, mobile-friendly experience with no extra code to maintain. But don’t worry, you can still customize the look and feel to match your brand’s experience with ease. If you’re a current client and haven’t already, reach out to our Customer Success team to help you upgrade!

2.)  Page Speed Performance

PowerReviews code is optimized for speed, which Google prides themselves on for their own product experiences and gives credit to sites that do the same. Our review display code (which runs as a 1st party tag, hosted on your servers) is ~ 200kb, 85% smaller than other providers.

3.) External Resources

Google has a variety of tools that PowerReviews uses with our own code development to check experience quality. To check if your site is mobile-friendly, you can examine individual pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test or check the status of your entire site through the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools.

You can also read Google’s FAQ on the mobile update posted yesterday for a full list of Google approved solutions to your mobile usability woes.

With the rollout of the Mobile-Friendly update by Google, it’s clear that mobile should be a top-priority for sites.  Consumers are using their mobile devices to shop, interact and explore, so give them the best experience with a mobile-friendly site.

Lower the barriers between making a decision and submitting their payment.

Amazon Removes Barriers to Purchase

doesnt-block-purchase

With crystal clear “Add to Cart” buttons, wishlists, and painless shipping options, Amazon positions itself as the front-runner for the best online shopping experience.

“Add to Cart” buttons that remain in-view offer shoppers a manicured path on how to proceed. “Wishlists” encourage customers to explore and discover products before they make their purchase decision, enabling them to curate a shortlist before they are ready to buy. Additional charges on top of the product cost are never fun for customers and can often stand in the way of completing a purchase. With programs like Prime, Amazon takes the pain out of paying, and waiting, for shipping.

Make it clear to your customers what to do next. Give them ways to collect products without the commitment of a cart. Where possible, try to minimize the additional costs they can incur.

Amazon has Extensive Customer Reviews and Q&A

extensive-content

Amazon knows the importance of user generated content and relies on it for heavily to drive conversion. They continually collect massive amounts of reviews and answers to questions by following up with customers after their purchases.

Reviews, questions, and answers are instrumental in putting a shoppers’ mind at ease. User generated content provides a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a product, from the perspective of their peers. This content acts like a magnet, enabling customers to consume and generate content directly on the product page, removing the need  to search for answers elsewhere.

We are big believers in collecting reviews and questions by emailing past customers to write reviews on products they already purchased. Employ this tactic on your end and use their experiences to answer the questions of potential customers. The authentic nature of this content adds credibility and validation to your product description, which can lead to a bump in conversion.

Amazon Doesn’t Hide Content Behind Tabs

no-tabs

One of the hallmarks of Amazon’s product page is its scannability. Content groups are not placed behind tabs, but instead are stacked on top of one another, enabling the shopper to scan and scroll at their own pace.

Scrolling is cognitively easier than focusing on a button and clicking, and shoppers are more likely to explore content when you reduce this cognitive load. It also enables your organization to control the order in which content is consumed.

Shoppers don’t give aways clicks easily, so save clicking for the “Add to Cart” button.

Amazon Displays Customer Images

customer-images

Amazon makes it easy a point to collect and display customer images of the products they have purchased. They display these images close to reviews, questions, and answers to add color to the user generated content that is already there.

Beautiful product photos supplied by the brand are enticing but customer images tell the real story. Setting realistic expectations and delivering on them enables you to build a relationship around trust. Close-ups and alternate angles can show the scale of a product, which in-turn build upon this trust, reducing hesitation to buy.

When asking your customers to review products, make it easy to include photos they’ve taken. Be sure to include these images as part of the product page—usually near the other product images toward the top of the page, or closer to customer reviews.

Amazon Helps you Compare

compare

On its product pages, Amazon will show you related products that people have considered purchasing, which help narrow down their choices. They also present shoppers with comparison charts to compare products side-by-side.

Shoppers are shopping. Sounds dumb right? They may have one product in mind, but will explore others, to ensure they are buying the best one to suit their needs. Product pages without related products or comparison charts force users to navigate back and forth between multiple product and category pages, often across various retailers. This can be frustrating and time-consuming for the shopper, which may lead to a lost sale.

Bottom Line
Remember, your shoppers are real people looking for products. They want to be able to see and understand exactly what it is they are buying. They are often worried about spending too much money or buying a low quality product. The goal of your product page should be to soothe their concerns by providing relevant content that helps them make their purchase decision. So put their mind at ease and give them a clear path to purchase.

Product reviews deliver important benefits to small retailers—benefits that can help independent retail brands hold their own against large, retail chains. Today’s consumers are ultra-educated and know what to research before making a purchase, so no matter how small a business, it is essential to equip consumers with that information.

Too often we see small retailers overlook the importance of cultivating product reviews, which is a huge missed opportunity as product reviews serve as raw material for business strategies that improve sales and top line revenue.

Here are five direct benefits product reviews can provide to independent retailers.

1.) Establish Credibility: Independent retail brands are often less visible than large chains. Product reviews not only help boost SEO, but more importantly, they establish that critical sense of trust by providing feedback from other consumers who have experience with your products. Establishing this sense of trust and authenticity with your customers then sets the foundation for a relationship and repeat purchases.

2.) Attract and Keep Customers on Your Site: Search engines love product reviews. By providing regularly updated, relevant content, ratings and reviews drive product-specific traffic to retailer sites from major search engines. Products without reviews are less likely to rank high in search results and therefore attract less organic traffic.

two female hiker hiking up a mountain in alpine scenery3.) Connect Like-Minded Customers: Product reviews build trust and loyalty by connecting consumers with people who share their interests, passions and values. For example, an independent camping goods retailer needs to attract consumers who are passionate about camping. Reviews make it possible for camping fans to interact with each other by reading and responding to content created by other campers. These reviewers are seen as experts within the retailer’s community, and this material can then also provide a wealth of information for new customers on the site who need guidance as to which products to purchase.

4.) Capture Material for Marketing Activities: Most independent retailers are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to marketing spend. Product reviews can help compensate for smaller budgets by providing high-quality content that can be used for marketing purposes. Consider using snippets of reviews and other user-generated content on social media channels, alongside product listings and in advertising campaigns both online and offline.

5.) Enhance Quality: Quality issues can make or break independent retailers. Even more than retail chains, independent retailers need to cultivate a reputation around the quality of their products and promote a positive brand reputation that is extended through word-of-mouth marketing. Product reviews allow independent retailers to gather actionable insights about their products such as which features customers love and potential problems that can be remedied in the next iteration.

For independent retailers, including product reviews as part of their business strategy is a must. User-generated content is helping to transform the retail industry and independent retailers need to ensure they’re able to keep up from the get-go. By driving traffic and conversions, product ratings and reviews are an easy step towards success.

Product reviews have become ubiquitous in the consumer purchase process. In fact, we found that more than 86 percent of consumers see reviews as an essential resource when making purchase decisions.

And while many retailers do recognize the power of ratings and reviews to drive traffic and sales, there’s still room to improve on their reviews strategy. Here’s a look at four of the most common mistakes we see related to reviews.

1. Not Asking for Reviews

It may seem obvious, but you can’t assume that customers will automatically return to your site to share their feedback. You have to ask for it and the best time to do so is shortly after a customer makes a purchase.

More than 85 percent of our customer’s reviews come from a post-transaction email. Even the most loyal customers don’t always opt for writing a review, so reminding them just in case isn’t a bad habit to get into.

2. Forgetting the Big Data Aspect of Reviews:

Reviews are a goldmine of valuable consumer insight that you can use to improve your products and the overall shopping experience. Netflix is a familiar example. Every time a user reviews a TV show, game or movie, Netflix uses that information to make smarter recommendations. Personalization tactics like those used by Netflix also shows interest in the customer, which can go a lot further than you’d think.

Customer reviews give retailers and brands insight into both the positive and negative aspects of products. Was that blender you ordered exactly what you expected or was there some disconnect between what you saw online and what arrived at your door? Were the cushions on your sofa comfortable and durable? Our customers use reviews not just in the obvious way of driving traffic and sales, but to  improve their products and merchandise mix. You can, too!

3. Filtering or Deleting Negative Reviews

While receiving a negative review can be upsetting, deleting or hiding negative reviews will damage your brand and credibility. Consumers are smart enough to know that products can’t be all things to all people, and a mix of positive and negative reviews shows that you understand each customer has different tastes and needs.

The occasional negative review will not sabotage your brand and sales, but instead shows that you aren’t afraid of negative feedback. Consumers are smart enough to know every product isn’t a fit for every person or situation. Negative reviews actually help users identify whether a product is a fit for them, while simultaneously adding authenticity to your brand.

4. Burying Reviews

We found that, 95 percent of shoppers consult reviews before making a purchase decision. Make customer reviews easily accessible across all channels, including your website, mobile site and third-party review sites.

Whether purchasing in-store or online, consumers rely on product reviews and recommendations to make buying decisions. Retailers and brands that embrace positive and negative reviews by making it simple for customers to share and view feedback will improve online engagement and drive sales.

This site and our services use cookies and other technologies to collect and/or store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work while others improve your experience. Read our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy to learn more.