In our last two blog posts, we detailed the
state of retail and also how user generated content plus perks can attract and win shoppers. It’s clear the challenges that retailers face. But what’s the solution? Read on for seven tips to compete (and win) against Amazon.

1. Fill the Product Page with Details
PowerReviews research found that poor product information tops consumer irritations both pre- and post-purchase. In fact, more than 43% of shoppers were irritated by poor product descriptions when researching products. A product not meeting expectations was cited by 21% of shoppers as a top post-purchase irritation, tied with size and fit. Retailers and brands must comprehensively describe the product or service. If selling apparel, improve product descriptions by including fit and size information as part of a review form.

2. Cultivate Trust Through Authentic and Transparent Reviews
Customers won’t typically be swayed by any one review, positive or negative. Average star ratings allow shoppers to get a sense of the overall customer experience, with nearly two-thirds of shoppers citing they are ‘very important’ or ‘important’ aspects of their purchase decisions. Shoppers will go to Amazon if they don’t find enough reviews for the products they are considering.

3. Use Reviews and Q&A to Improve Products and Information
Reviews and Q&A give brands and retailers a direct line of feedback with consumers. Allowing shoppers to ask questions helps to be sure you are meeting their expectations and they are getting exactly what they signed up for, taking some of the risk out of online shopping. Reviews can also alert the brand or retailer to flaws in a product that can be fixed to satisfy consumers.



4. Add Consumer Submitted Videos and Images to Product Pages
Ask for images and videos and display them on the product and category pages: 88% of consumers specifically look for visuals such as photos or videos submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase. Allow purchasers the opportunity to submit their own images to create content from real customersmeeting customer demands for more information and managing purchase expectations.


5. Welcome Negative Feedback
Shoppers are suspicious of a squeaky clean rating and want to be trusted to make their own judgments on others’ negative experiences. Of consumers, 82% specifically seek out negative reviews and consumers are most likely to purchase a product when its average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. Accept the negative feedback and take steps to correct it publicly when it makes sense. Use negative reviews to improve product descriptions and to improve poor performing products.

6. Redefine Loyalty and Reward Advocates
Consumers who are passionate about a brand or product are highly valuable. Ease and loyalty top the list of reasons why consumers choose to start shopping on a retailer or brand website, with 48% stating it as the top reason. These loyalists will not only purchase on the site, they will be brand advocates willing to answer questions and provide detailed product reviews. Amazon’s Vine program identifies loyalists not by spend, but by content generation, offering free samples to members to write reviews. Identify advocates through both content generation and by spend. Of consumers, 33% want free products as a reward for loyalty. Retailers and brands should offer samples to generate reviews, photos, and images and identify content from verified buyers or associated with free samples, which shoppers cite as the most important factor in building trust.

7. Leverage Physical Stores
Many retailers have assets that Amazon is only starting to build: physical stores. Retailers and brands should leverage physical stores not only as a revenue channel, but also as a way to display and drive content. In its Seattle area bookstore, Amazon displays star ratings and review excerpts for books using simple shelf tags. Brands can also include reviews in their mobile app to influence the in-store experience. Retailers can generate reviews from in-store purchases by emailing loyalty program members after a purchase, asking them to contribute reviews, photos and videos.

 

Want to see the results of a PowerReviews survey on the factors that contribute to Amazon’s dominance and how retailers can compete — and win? Read our latest whitepaper or watch this on-demand webinar.


Next week, a few members of the PowerReviews team will be packing our bags and heading to Palm Springs, CA for
eTail West, an annual event geared toward ecommerce and multichannel retail professionals.

Each year, eTail West provides a great opportunity to connect with your peers to discuss challenges and creative approaches to solve those challenges. It’s also a great opportunity to hear from leaders in the industry about hot button topics including mobile, digital marketing, social and more. This year, we’re especially excited to hear from some of our own clients, including

  • Tumi
  • Benefit Cosmetics
  • Vineyard Vines
  • B&H Photo
  • Perry Ellis
  • And more!

If you’re attending, you’re guaranteed to leave with lots of new connections (there will be 1,200 retailer attendees from 600 companies!) and plenty of ideas and insights that can help you improve your company’s bottom line in the coming year and beyond.

Stop By Our Booth

If you’re attending eTail West in Palm Springs, be sure to stop by booth #412 for a free demo and to discuss how our solutions can help you generate more traffic, sales and insights. The Exhibit Hall will be open:

  • Tuesday, February 28 from 7:25am-6:00pm
  • Wednesday, March 1 from 7:30am-4:55pm

You can also contact us now to schedule an on-site meeting.

We hope to see you next week in Palm Springs!

Today’s consumers want all the information they can get about a product before making a purchase. One of the best sources of information is user-generated content. Having complete and transparent information helps retailers establish trust with shoppers. Amazon is the pioneer in this practice and wrote the book on how thorough and complete product descriptions, ratings and reviews, plus user submitted photos help meet and exceed expectations.

Ratings
When researching a product, 25% of shoppers who can’t find reviews and leave a retailer site will head to Amazon. Shoppers ranked the most important factor for driving trust in an individual review:

  1. Review by verified buyer
  2. Detail of the review
  3. User-submitted images or video
  4. The reviewer is like me
  5. Number of reviews by reviewer

Shoppers want to know that the review is authentic and complete, but they are less interested in the review writer. Interestingly enough, consumers don’t want perfect products. In fact, 82% of consumers specifically seek out negative reviews and are leery of flawless products. The ideal star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars.

Product descriptions, visual content key
Complete and accurate product descriptions are just as important as reviews. Unlike shopping in stores, online consumers don’t get to touch the product so understanding exactly what it is or does is essential.

PowerReviews’ research found that shoppers’ top irritation when researching products online ranked as follows:

  • 43% – Poor product description
  • 20% – Lack of photos or videos
  • 18% – No product reviews
  • 7% – Not enough product reviews
  • 3% – No user submitted content like photos and videos

Table stakes: shipping & returns
While user-generated content is essential for meeting and exceeding shopper expectations, Amazon now takes it a step further with perks. Free and fast shipping, as well as their “Prime” loyalty program, ensures that consumers consider Amazon as their go-to site. Unlike a typical loyalty program offering discounts, Amazon Prime charges customers a membership fee in return for benefits such as free shipping as well as free music and videos. In return, shoppers are fiercely loyal. Amazon has raised the bar for all retailers and brands who are struggling with how to compete in this new and complex world.

Table Stakes: Our survey confirmed that free shipping and returns are table stakes for e-retailers:

  • 84% cited free shipping as a compelling incentive
  • 62% were tempted by the offer of free returns
  • 29% found reordering ease enticing

Redefining loyalty
Through its Vine program, Amazon is also redefining loyalty by focusing not only on customers who frequently buy products, but also on customers who frequently contribute useful reviews with perks such as free samples.

Differentiators: Shoppers are attracted and retained through the following perks:

  • 33% of consumers would like free products
  • 29% cited loyalty points
  • 27% want early access to sales
  • 19% are intrigued by early access to products

Retailers are under no illusion about the competition they face, but they have the tools to compete and win by providing relevant content and by using loyalty programs to increase engagement and conversion.

You can read the full white paper here, or listen to a breakdown on the survey results in a webinar recording with Theresa O’Neil, SVP of Marketing.

Amazon captures half of holiday sales, half of growth
Many retailers are regrouping after disappointing holiday sales. While the numbers were lower for many traditional retailers, that only paints half of the picture. E-commerce sites are continuing to gain market share as shoppers move from the store to the computer. According to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, U.S. retail e-commerce sales increased 15.6% in Q3 2016 over Q2 2016. One of the biggest sites to capitalize on this trend is Amazon. According to Internet Retailer, Amazon captured more than half of 2016 holiday sales. Retailers are seeing a shift in how and when consumers shop and what they expect from sites. Half of web traffic and 30% of purchases came from mobile devices.

How Amazon changed shopper expectations
When it comes to e-commerce it seems to be Amazon vs. everyone else. Amazon’s dominance is well documented; they have more than 300 million active users who rely on the site for everything from everyday essentials to TVs. In addition to changing the shopping experience, Amazon has changed shopper expectations. Amazon’s customers have come to expect free and fast shipping, detailed product descriptions and thorough customer reviews. Traditional e-commerce sites are struggling to compete and match the high bar Amazon set. While traditional retailers have an uphill battle, there are several ways that brands can entice shoppers and gain an edge.

PowerReviews recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. shoppers to understand the factors that contribute to Amazon’s dominance; here are some of the key findings.

Thicker than blood?
Every month more people visit Amazon than their families; 85% of people visit Amazon monthly versus 40% who visit family. And it makes sense while families may be dispersed across the country, Amazon is as close as your mobile device. And with thousands of products, thorough product descriptions and ample ratings and reviews, consumers know what to expect and, in turn, trust Amazon.

Of shoppers, 71% make at least one Amazon purchase a month. Shoppers cite the following reasons:

  • 79% – Variety of Products
  • 64% – Free Shipping
  • 60% – Better Deals
  • 55% – Volume of Customer Reviews
  • 54% – Search Capabilities
  • 29% – Mobile Experience

Once you have shoppers on your site – keep them
Once you have attracted shoppers to your site it’s important to provide all of the information they need to complete a purchase. A consumer looking for your specific brand may shop your site to select the items they are most interested in, then take those findings with them to the Amazon site for the actual purchase. According to our study, up to 70% of shoppers will start on a brand site and then navigate to Amazon to complete the purchase while just 31% will do the reverse.

Ease and loyalty are essential to making shoppers repeat buyers. PowerReviews’ survey found that the following reasons ranked highest for keeping shoppers coming back:

  • 56% – Easier to find what I’m looking for
  • 48% – I’m a past customer and loyal to the brand/retailer
  • 25% – I find the best product information here
  • 18% – Helpful customer reviews
  • 17% – Better deals
  • 11% – Other

The retailer marketplace is changing prompting brands and retailers to make adjustment to combat the Amazon effect. While they may have to raise their standards, brands and retailers have the opportunity to be the single best source for information on their products.

To read the full white paper, please visit, or listen to a breakdown on the survey results in a webinar recording with Theresa O’Neil, SVP of Marketing.

I’m excited to announce that PowerReviews is holding its inaugural Digital Commerce Summit on May 3-4, 2017 in Chicago! Our summit theme is the Transparency Economy, where individuals are empowered with authentic user-generated content to make better decisions in all aspects of their lives.  Our speakers and workshops will focus on different aspects of the Transparency Economy, designed to help brands and retailers thrive.

My favorite Chicago site is Buckingham Fountain

What Will You Experience at the Summit?

Springtime is beautiful in Chicago and we will be sharing some of the most iconic aspects of our city, including an evening with cocktails, dinner, and entertainment at the famous Shedd Aquarium.

Industry Vision and UGC Best Practices. You’ll hear from industry leaders about the current state of communications and commerce. They’ll also envision and create commerce of the future. Many of the sessions will focus on what’s worked (and not worked!) as told by practitioners, based on real life experiences.

The Latest from PowerReviews. Of course the PowerReviews team will be there to share the latest and greatest technologies and practices to help you stay ahead of the competition. We’ll also be listening to get your input on what can positively impact your business.

Networking. There will also be plenty of time to network and share your challenges and successes.

Be a Speaker or Panelist! If you are a digital marketing or ecommerce professional who would like to share your experiences as a speaker or as a panel member, you can apply here.

Summit and Hotel Registration. Visit our summit site to officially register – early bird registration ends February 15, 2017. Reduced room rates are available for registered attendees at the Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile.

We still have a lot of exciting details to reveal – stay tuned. We look forward to seeing you there!

CHICAGO – February 9, 2017 – PowerReviews, a leading provider of ratings, reviews and question-and-answer technology to more than 1,000 global brands and retailers, provides seven recommendations on how brands and retailers can compete with Amazon.  

“The holiday shopping season showed that retail sales are shifting. Online and mobile sales continue to gain market share as consumers move from stores to devices,” said Matt Moog, chief executive officer, PowerReviews. “Brands and retailers have the opportunity to become the first source for information on their products. There are a few easy and fundamental steps brands and retailers can take to compete in e-commerce.”  

Based on its findings from its recent study, PowerReviews provides seven recommendations to compete with Amazon:

  1. Fill the product page with details: Poor product information topped consumer irritations both pre- and post-purchase. More than 43% of shoppers were irritated by poor product descriptions when researching products. A product not meeting expectations was cited by 21% of shoppers as a top post-purchase irritation, tied with size and fit. Retailers and brands must comprehensively describe the product and service. If selling apparel, improve product descriptions by including fit and size information as part of a review form.
  2. Cultivate trust through authentic and transparent reviews: Customers won’t typically be swayed by any one review, positive or negative. Average star ratings allow shoppers to get a sense of the overall customer experience, with nearly two-thirds of shoppers citing they are ‘very important’ or ‘important’ aspects of their purchase decisions. Shoppers will go to Amazon if they don’t find enough reviews for the products they are considering.
  3. Use Reviews and Q&A to improve products and information: Reviews and Q&A give brands and retailers a direct line of feedback with their customers. Allowing customers to ask questions helps to be sure you are meeting their expectations and they are getting exactly what they signed up for, taking some of the risk out of online shopping. Reviews can also alert the brand or retailer to flaws in a product that can be fixed to satisfy consumers.
  4. Add consumer submitted videos and images to product pages: Ask for images and videos and display them on the product and category pages: 88% of consumers specifically look for visuals such as photos or videos submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase. Allow purchasers the opportunity to submit their own images to create content from real customers; meeting customer demands for more information and managing purchase expectations.
  5. Welcome negative feedback: Shoppers are suspicious of a squeaky clean rating and want to be trusted to make their own judgments on others’ bad experiences. Of consumers, 82% specifically seek out negative reviews and consumers are most likely to purchase a product when its average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. Accept the negative feedback and take steps to correct it publicly when it makes sense. Use negative reviews to improve product descriptions and to improve poor performing products.
  6. Redefine loyalty and reward advocates: Consumers who are passionate about a brand or product are highly valuable. Ease and loyalty top the list of reasons why consumers choose to start shopping on a retailer or brand website, with 48% stating it as the top reason. These loyalists will not only purchase on the site, they will be brand advocates willing to answer Q&A and provide detailed product reviews. Amazon’s Vine program identifies loyalists not by spend, but by content generation, offering free samples to members to write reviews. Identify advocates through both content generation and by spend. Of consumers, 33% want free products as a reward for loyalty. Retailers and brands should offer samples to generate reviews, photos, and images and identify content from verified buyers or associated with free samples, which shoppers cite as the most important factor in building trust.
  7. Leverage physical stores: Many retailers have assets that Amazon is only starting to build: physical stores. Retailers and brands should leverage physical stores not only as a revenue channel, but also as a way to display and drive content. In its Seattle area bookstore, Amazon displays star ratings and review excerpts for books using simple shelf tags. Brands can also include reviews in their mobile app to influence the in-store experience. Retailers can generate reviews from in-store purchases by emailing loyalty program members after a purchase, asking them to contribute reviews, photos and videos.

To read the full white paper please visit, https://www.powerreviews.com/event/compete-with-amazon/.

About PowerReviews

PowerReviews works with more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to deliver cloud-based software that collects and displays ratings and reviews and questions and answers on websites. PowerReviews unifies and amplifies the voice of the consumer throughout their journey, across all channels to help consumers make better purchase decisions and to help businesses drive conversion and improve products and services. Ratings and reviews solutions from PowerReviews are essential for consumers as they search and shop online and in-store, driving traffic on more than 5,000 websites, creating actionable insights to improve products and services, increasing conversion, and growing online site-wide sales. The PowerReviews Syndication Network reaches 2,500 retailers and more than 700 million in-market shoppers every month, giving retailers and brands the power to reach shoppers wherever they are. For more information, visit www.powerreviews.com.

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