3 Ways to Leverage UGC to Reduce Return Rates and Improve Your Bottom Line

The three largest package delivery companies serving the IR 500 have recently announced new shipping rates. And it’s bad news for ecommerce companies. While UPS and FedEx are increasing shipping rates by 4.9% at the beginning of 2017, the US Postal Service has already increased its rates an average of 9.5% for several of the shipping services commonly used by ecommerce companies.

It’s no secret that shipping costs are a large — and growing — expense for ecommerce brands and retailers. At the same time, many consumers have come to expect free shipping and returns. PowerReviews research found that 38% of shoppers start the purchase journey on Amazon, and of those, 64% say that free shipping is a top reason they choose to do so.

Now is the time for brands and retailers to think about what they can do to keep shipping costs in check. Negotiating favorable shipping contracts and finding more efficient ways to ship — such as smaller, lightweight packaging — is one piece of the puzzle. But another important way to keep shipping costs at bay is to reduce return rates.

Easier said than done? Not necessarily. The key is to do what you can to make sure shoppers know exactly what to expect from the products they order. That way there are no surprises when the item arrives on their doorstep. After all, a study from Shorr Packaging found that the top reason shoppers return merchandise is because the product wasn’t what they expected. Luckily for brands and retailers, User Generated Content (UGC) — such as ratings and reviews, questions and answers, photos, and videos — is an effective way to help shoppers make smarter shopping decisions.

Read on for three ways your brand can start leveraging UGC to reduce return rates — and improve your bottom line.

1. Feature Ratings and Reviews
A consumer who shops in-store has the benefit of experiencing a product firsthand before making a purchase. She can feel the fabric of a sweater to access its quality, sample a facial moisturizer to determine how easily it absorbs, or try on a pair of shoes to see whether they run true to size.

With more and more consumers craving the convenience of online shopping, brands need to bring this comprehensive product information online, too. Then shoppers can make the right purchase decisions, and are less likely to return the products they purchase.

Ratings and reviews are one of the best ways to provide this important information to your shoppers. For example, let’s say there’s a consumer shopping for a pair of jeans. She’s 5’8” and debating whether to purchase regular or tall length jeans. She reads several reviews, and notices that many consumers mention that the pants run short, so she orders the tall length. The pants arrive on her doorstep a week later and fit perfectly, and you avoid the costs of an unnecessary return.

2. Allow Shoppers to Submit Photos and Videos
Visual content is quickly becoming an expected part of the purchase journey. And though professional photos and videos are important, a growing number of shoppers specifically look for visual content from other consumers. In fact, a recent PowerReviews study found that 88% of consumers seek out user generated photos and images when browsing for products.

Allow your shoppers to submit photos and videos as part of their reviews, so future shoppers can use this as yet another tool to help them make the best purchase decisions. For example, a shopper can browse through user submitted photos to see what a dress looks like on someone with a body type similar to hers.

3. Allow Your Customers to Ask Questions
Regardless of how thorough your product descriptions are, shoppers will likely still have questions. This is especially true if they’re shopping for products that require a higher level of consideration, due to factors such as cost and lack of familiarity.

Implement a Q&A solution on your website to provide your shoppers with a way to get their questions answered and identify the products that will best fit their needs. Well informed purchases mean less returns — and therefore fewer shipping expenses.

More Information
Want to learn more about how to reduce return rates with ratings and reviews, Q&A, and visual content? Contact us to schedule a free demo!

Arit Nsemo

Arit has a background in client success in the online space. Currently, Arit is based in London, England where she is responsible for the success of PowerReviews clients in EMEA, taking a consultative approach to relationship management.

It’s no secret that visual content is becoming an integral part of the lives of today’s consumers. In fact, Deloitte predicts that this year, more than 2.5 trillion photos will be shared or stored online. And 90% of these photos will be taken on a mobile device.

But how is visual content changing the way consumers shop for products? PowerReviews recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 American consumers to find out. Check out this infographic below or download the full report to understand the types of visual content consumers are seeking and how it’s influencing trust and purchase behavior.

The role of visual content in the path to purchase


Snapshot of ecommerce download

Featured Presenters


Theresa O’Neil | Senior Vice President, Marketing

Theresa is the SVP of Marketing for PowerReviews. She is responsible for building and leading the PowerReviews marketing team in the development and execution of programs that increase awareness of the PowerReviews brand and technology, generate leads and support direct and indirect channels to grow revenue and profitability.

Theresa brings more than 20 years of experience developing marketing, sales and business development strategy. Prior to PowerReviews, Theresa founded Artha Communications, a firm dedicated to marketing for software companies. Before founding Artha, Theresa led marketing and business development for companies including IBM, InRule Technology, Showcase, and Platinum Technology.

How Brands and Retailers Can Leverage User-Submitted Photos and Video to Better Attract and Convert Shoppers

Visual content — such as photos and videos — have become an expected part of the path to purchase. A new PowerReviews study found that 72% of consumers regularly or always seek out visual content prior to purchase. And this number jumps to 81% for consumers age 18-29.

[bctt tweet=”72% of consumers regularly or always seek out visual content prior to purchase.” username=”powerofreviews”]

Visual content also plays a big role in building trust and influencing customer behavior. 65% of shoppers are more likely to trust products that have user-submitted photos or videos in their reviews. And 72% of shoppers say they’re more likely to buy a product that has reviews that feature photos and videos in addition to written text.

How can brands and retailers better leverage user-submitted visual content to attract and convert more shoppers? Read on for five tips.

1. Request Photos and Videos from Your Shoppers
There’s simply nothing quite like seeing a photo of a product being used in real life, by a real person. So it comes as no surprise that 88% of consumers are specifically looking for visuals — such as photos and videos — submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase.

If you’re not already, start asking your shoppers to submit photos and videos as part of their reviews. And make it easy for shoppers to upload photos and videos directly from their phones, where much of this content is captured. Deloitte predicts that this year, 2.5 trillion photos will be shared or stored online, and 90% of those photos will be taken on a mobile device.

2. Capture Visual Content Natively
In order to capture a high volume of user-generated photos and videos, it’s important to make the process as easy as possible for your shoppers. Rather than requiring consumers to take the extra step of first uploading content to a third party service such as YouTube or asking your internal teams to curate visual content by combing through millions of photos on social media sites, allow shoppers to natively submit their photos and videos through your website.

3. Prominently Display User-Generated Visual Content
Half of consumers are starting the search for photos or videos of products on a search engine. But ultimately, 40% prefer to see this type of content directly on a brand or retailer website. So make it easy for your shoppers to find what they’re looking for!

[bctt tweet=”40% of consumers prefer to see product photos or videos directly on a brand or retailer website.” username=”powerofreviews”]

Prominently feature user-generated visual content on your product pages, rather than hiding it behind tabs or requiring your visitors to click around (or click to another website) to find what they’re looking for. That way, you’ll provide shoppers with all of the information they’re looking for in one place. And by doing so, shoppers will be less likely to leave your site and purchase elsewhere.

4. Keep Your Visual Content Authentic
Consumers value visual content submitted by other consumers because of its authenticity. And while it’s key to maintain that authenticity by not altering photos, it’s also important to keep inappropriate and fraudulent content off your site. Ask your ratings and reviews provider what moderation processes they have in place to ensure no inappropriate or fraudulent content makes its way on your site, which can tarnish the trust you’ve worked hard to build for your brand.

5. Leverage User-Generated Photos in Other Marketing Initiatives
It’s key to prominently feature user-generated images and videos on your product pages. But don’t stop there. Instead, consider ways you can leverage this content on other areas of your website, including your homepage, category pages, and campaign-specific landing pages. In addition, think about ways you can integrate visual content into other print and digital marketing initiatives such as email, social, and display campaigns.

Want to better understand the role visual content plays in the path to purchase? Download our new study.

Snapshot for ecommerce download

It’s no secret that visual content is becoming an integral part of the lives of today’s consumers. Deloitte predicts that in 2016, 2.5 trillion photos will be shared or stored online, a 15% increase from 2015. And it’s estimated that over 90% of those photos will be taken on a mobile device.

Visual content is also changing the way consumers browse for and purchase products. PowerReviews conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers to better understand the role visual content plays in the path to purchase.

During this webinar, we’ll cover:

  • What kind of visual content consumers want
  • How the preferences of shoppers vary by age
  • The ways visual content builds trust and influences customer behavior
  • Where shoppers want to consume visual content

How User-Generated Content Relieves the Excess Baggage of Luggage Shopping

In another 50 years, we might be able to order a jetpack on Amazon to whisk us away to Bora Bora at the drop of a hat. Drones will deliver our passports, robots will pat us down at security, and hoverboards will take us to our terminals. The headaches of travel are being alleviated by online and technological conveniences every day, and ecommerce for your luggage is just one of them.

The necessity of shopping for luggage in a brick-and-mortar store is quickly falling by the wayside. Granted, it’s falling slightly less quickly than in other verticals, where seeing and sampling a physical specimen isn’t necessarily as important, but UGC is offering a virtual reality for the touching, handling, wheeling and lifting we once required. In a world where no one wants to leave the house except to go on vacation, here’s how modern luggage retailers are leveraging user-generated content to keeping the traveling for the trip.

Ratings and Reviews
86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchasing decisions. With the shape of today’s ecommerce marketplace (and in order to keep up with juggernaut competition like Amazon), it pays to ensure that every possible piece of information is readily available for consumers on brand and retailer websites to increase traffic and conversion.

By offering specific tag-based review data on a per-product basis, valuable user feedback is laser-focused and maximizes the helpfulness of the display. For luggage shopping in particular, tags for pros, cons and best uses are paramount in influencing online conversion. Tumi, for instance, uses this feature to highlight how a particular bag is easy to identify, has great capacity, and is useful for weekend or business trips. It’s also a forum for expert advice—real-life users offer feedback on various topics, such as whether the bag passes new carry-on restrictions and how challenging it is to lift into overhead bins.

In addition to conversion on a luggage brand’s website, a considerable portion of online luggage sales come from department store or speciality retailer sites. Consumers shopping for a stylish carry-on might, by habit, go to Macys.com or Nordstrom.com to search–and a wide variety of options from numerous brands will populate. Brands and products with star ratings and review content will attract eyes first. In order to ensure that the review content on those retailer sites is as abundant as possible, brands can syndicate their ratings and reviews to retailers within the PowerReviews network. More content means more conversion, regardless of the channels your shoppers are using to browse and purchase.

Visual Content
Photos and videos are ubiquitous in today’s connected world, and native visual content takes review displays to a new level of relatability. Photos and videos of the product in use in real life—not in staged advertisements—allow shoppers to more aptly picture the product in their own worlds. Additionally, the display of these products living in actual consumers’ homes will illustrate more clearly the look and feel and fit of the item in consideration. This is especially relevant for apparel, accessories, footwear, and luggage.

Q&A and Why Did You Buy
In the wide world of luggage and bags, there are countless categories, uses, shapes, sizes, and materials to evaluate. PowerReviews offers additional product features to influence high-consideration purchasing decisions in a sea of endless options—and for luggage in particular, the more content the merrier! With fast answers from verified buyers and staff experts in Q&A (which effectively acts as a virtual FAQ), shoppers convert quickly. And the new Q&A search functionality eliminates the need to ask the same questions over and over again. Additionally, with PowerReviews’ Why Did You Buy offering, instantaneous content is collected and displayed for the quickest baseline answers on…well…why the consumer bought the product.

With so much to say and so many places to say it, luggage retailers are capitalizing on user-generated content to transport their businesses into the virtual world. And PowerReviews can do just that. No matter the vertical, our best-in-class software solutions will impact your ecommerce traffic and conversions in a high-flying way. So prepare for takeoff and request a demo today!

Mandy Levy