Technology has become increasingly more intertwined in people’s lives. Nearly every major sector of the economy has experienced some form of disruption because of technology — Transportation (Uber), Lodging (Airbnb), Entertainment (Netflix), Personal Communication (smartphones), Fintech (Apple Pay, Venmo, Square), Retail (Amazon) and the list goes on and on. Retail Grocery is no different.

Consumers’ willingness to embrace new lifestyles powered by technology seems almost endless. Over 18 million Americans now have a grocery app on their mobile device and over 50% of omnichannel purchases are digitally influenced. The success of brands such as FreshDirect, Peapod, Instacart, Shipt, HelloFresh, AmazonNow and many others is proof that the grocery landscape is transforming to meet consumer demand. One of the fastest growing sectors in retail is eGrocery. In fact, online grocery sales are expected to triple between 2015 – 2022.  

eGrocery 1.0 focused primarily on the distribution part of the marketing mix, or how and where to buy groceries online. eGrocery 2.0 will focus on the other parts of the marketing mix — especially product, promotion and experience.  With eGrocery 2.0, the key question won’t necessarily be where to buy groceries online, but rather what should I buy? Owning the digital shelf space online will be just as important as owning the physical shelf space. PowerReviews helps to enable this digital transformation.  

Checking ratings & reviews before digital and physical purchases is now second nature to consumers because they come to expect this information to be readily available regardless of what they’re buying. Consumers can vet their buying decisions for almost anything including restaurants, movies, lodging, trips, electronics, apparel, etc.  Grocery products are no different. For consumables, people want to know what others think about the taste as well as ingredient contents. A grocery shopper study by Label Insights, found that 73% of consumers would be willing to pay more for a product that offers complete transparency in all attributes. Furthermore, 56% said that additional information about how food is produced, handled or sourced would help them trust a brand more.

Retailers who are seeking to market their private brands rely on user-generated content to help their shoppers understand the quality and value these brands deliver. PowerReviews offers retailers the opportunity to leverage their community of shoppers to help advocate for private brands that deliver value, are comparable to national brands and offer unique or superior product benefits.

PowerReviews recognized early on that eGrocery was a sector in which we were well positioned to help both Brands and Retailers succeed. We’ve made significant investments in our technology and people resources in this space. Furthermore, we have real world client insights from which our future product roadmap is developed. Here are a few reasons why PowerReviews is a leader in eGrocery.

Insights from a Deep Bench of Grocery Clients

We’ve all heard the saying “learning by doing.” We’ve been doing ratings and reviews for over 10 years and have a deep bench of grocery clients from which we’ve been continuously building our industry expertise. PowerReviews has over 60 active grocery clients including BJ’s Wholesale Club, Jet.com, Dollar General, PepsiCo, ConAgra Brands, DelMonte, Bimbo Bakeries, Hormel, Constellation Brands, Hershey’s and many others. With this breadth of clients comes tremendous insights and unique perspective on how to help our clients focus their omnichannel strategy and get the basics right from the beginning. Without giving away all of our trade secrets, here are a few things we know are important for eGrocery and how we help our clients.

The Science of Review Collection for Grocery Brands & Retailers

Most grocery brands & retailers will readily admit that their digital strategies are still a work in progress. Some sell online, but many don’t. In either case, how do grocery brands and retailers collect reviews and how does PowerReviews help?

Review Collection for both non-eCommerce and e-Commerce clients

Collecting reviews can be a challenge since most grocery brands don’t have close one-to-one relationships with the end consumer. Furthermore, personally identifiable buyer transaction information isn’t usually provided from retailers. If a brand or retailer doesn’t sell products online directly to the end consumer, how are they supposed to easily collect reviews? PowerReviews has a full product suite to help. One of our core strengths is the bundling of our product sampling, review collection and syndication capabilities. We have solutions to help clients regardless of where they are in their digital evolution.

Product Sampling

Product sampling is one of the most effective ways clients can generate reviews if they don’t already have them. Sampling facilitates generating quality reviews for new product launches, seasonal promotions or for existing products that have few reviews. We have a full service solution that handles everything for our clients from targeting, fulfillment and review collection to syndication.

PowerReviews has a large and engaged community of everyday influencers which makes it easy to build out highly targeted sampling and review collection campaigns.  We’re experts at this and have consistently been able to generate 85% review submission rates from our sampling campaigns.

Review Collection

There is a science to review collection and PowerReviews has a PhD in it. There are 3 critical success factors in review collection: 1.) How to collect reviews, 2.) What to collect and 3.) When to collect content. PowerReviews collects 2X more content for our clients than our competitors given our acute attention to detail and the smart product innovations we’ve made.

How To Collect Reviews

Our Review Your Purchases feature makes it easy for end users to write multiple reviews all at once, instead of receiving emails individually for each product. This is not standard practice in the industry and is a simple innovation that allows our grocery clients to significantly increase the breadth of coverage of their products. Review Your Purchases has been shown to increase product coverage by 300%.

Our Progressive Collection feature allows clients to collect more in-depth information on their products by sequentially asking probing questions. Whereas Review Your Purchases is about product breadth, Progressive Collection is about product depth and getting more granular feedback about the product from consumers.

Our Intelligent Collection feature allows clients to align their collection strategy with their current business priorities. We know companies have changing category and product priorities throughout the year. Intelligent Collection allows clients to be able to prioritize review collection based on various factors such as price point, margin, review coverage or low conversion rate (eg. high traffic/low conversions).

What to Collect

Our Visual Content collection features allow clients to not only collect written text reviews, but also images and video. Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days and they all have photo and video capability. Photo and video collection is integrated into our product. PowerReviews customers have seen a 153% increase in visual content collection when they sent an image or video-only request to shoppers. What’s more, 65% of shoppers that submit a piece of visual content continue on to write a review.

For grocery brands, one use case of this feature is for consumers to take photos or videos of recipes that have been “completed” using a brands’ products. Whether it’s a cake or a fantastic home-cooked meal, some people love to show off their finished recipes. Food items are among the most frequently posted on Instagram and Facebook. Our Social Suite allows brands to easily create campaigns using previously posted items on Social Media from their customers.

On average we’re collecting over 7,500 reviews per month among our grocery clients. Our portfolio continues to grow as does our executional expertise.

When to Collect

When to collect reviews is a critical success factor. If you request the review too soon after purchase, you’ll miss an opportunity because the consumer hasn’t used it yet. And if you request the review too late, the consumer is disinterested and is likely to ignore the review request. PowerReviews’ powerful data analytics capabilities are integrated into our system to time the review request at the right time per product. PowerReviews has over 1500 product SKUs in the grocery space that we’re collecting reviews for. Our data analytics is a contributing factor to our 2X advantage in review collection relative to the competition.

Syndication

Finally, reviews are most useful when distributed where your shoppers are making their purchases. Reviews don’t just sit on brand and retailer websites, but are shared across retailer product pages as well. That’s where syndication comes into play and the PowerReviews Open Network reaches 1 Billion shoppers monthly that account for $90B in sales.

For grocery brands we syndicate to the largest online retailers such as Dollar General, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Tesco, and Thrive Market to name a few. Here are a few things to note about our Syndication Network:

  1. No access fees
  2. 80% higher product matching compared to our competitors due to proprietary artificial intelligence and an in-house human-developed executional process. 
  3. Speedy integration. 1-2 weeks setup time which is 50% faster than industry standard

With our sophistication in syndication and overall network management, PowerReviews brand clients frequently see a 2X increase in product page conversions and retailers often experience a 15-20% lift in site conversion.

Our team of consultants has a wealth of experience collecting, organizing and distributing user-generated content, critical for the omnichannel grocery path to purchase. Our years of domain experience working with grocery brands and retailers and our forward-looking product roadmap will help us stay a leader in omnichannel grocery.

As the retail environment rapidly evolves to meet the expectations of today’s empowered consumers, one of the largest brands grabbing nationwide attention also happens to be one of the most mysterious. This is especially true when it comes to the future.

Amazon’s growth from a modest online shopping option to one of the premier eCommerce platforms in the world is a journey its Chairman and CEO, Jeff Bezos says is rooted in its commitment to customers.

Sitting down for a recent 60 Minutes interview, the typically tightlipped Bezos provided a rare glimpse into the rationale behind Amazon’s business model. He also provided insight into how the strategy will steer the retail giant into other business ventures in the future.

For retailers looking to make a splash in the market themselves, his message regarding what should motivate business is particularly useful.

Jeff Bezos Makes The Case for Customer-Driven Strategy

While the investments in innovative solutions Amazon is making are certainly noteworthy and exciting visions of what lies ahead, the most important takeaway for retailers looking to innovate themselves is the idea of robust customer centricity.

For those who’ve observed Amazon’s development and looked on in excitement, today the tools are available to become much more than an observer.

When asked how he and his team decide to take on a new opportunity, Bezos finds the motivation to move in certain directions by closely watching the actions of his customers. Put plainly, Amazon “puts the customer at the center of everything they do.”

It’s this information that Bezos says gives him a glimpse of what may lie at the end of seemingly dark tunnels. While others aren’t willing to take certain risks, it’s the trust in customer opinion that provides the confidence needed to follow through with a new idea.

Trust Remains One Of The Most Important Elements of Sustained Success

The customer-centric strategy can further be broken down into the fundamental idea of trust between the customer and company. For Bezos, the ability to suspend growth goals in order to protect the fragile state of trust customers form with his company and the service it provides is what sends Amazon ahead of competitors.

When others would normally raise prices to reach benchmarks, he keeps them low in order to ensure slight erosion in customer trust doesn’t snowball into a long-term retention problem.

Speaking to Amazon’s physical growth, Bezos says much of Amazon’s profit goes directly back into development projects aimed to take Amazon even closer to its customers. Fulfillment Centers geared around ultra-quick online-to-doorstep delivery and pickup services are one such investment Bezos considers an important link between online and offline convenience.

How Retailers Put These Strategies Into Motion Today

Although it’s always interesting to peel back the cover and look inside successful companies, Bezos’s explanation highlights a business model many retailers can use to their own advantage. No matter the size of your company, turning to your customers to inform you of what next step to take can be a viable solution for any retailer.

Particularly for those who are sensing a disconnect growing between your company and its audience, an effort to let your customers decide the next step can reestablish the delicate sense of trust that may have started to fade. If a customer-centric plan seems to fit your broader customer experience needs, there are ways to start working toward a greater focus on customer-driven direction.

The first step should involve customer evaluation:

Invest in a customer experience evaluation process

In order to make the best possible decisions around your customers, you first need to gather accurate, actionable insights about what they’re pleased with, where they’d like to see improvement and the ideas they have regarding what they’d like to see next.

Whether you engage with trained and certified mystery shoppers capable of providing detailed customer experience reports, a customer intercepts program geared to capture reactions just after customers leave the store, or customer satisfaction surveys tailored to your in-store experience, this is a key step to defining exactly where your customers stand.

Depending on the needs of your particular company, these customer evaluation methods provide leadership teams with the kinds of customer feedback gathered directly from the source.

A business’ aim is to create products and experiences that consumers love. But even the best product can’t be all things to all people. And consumers don’t trust products that claim to be.

As it turns out, perfect reviews aren’t the best for businesses, either. Our research with Northwestern University found that purchase probability peaks when a product’s average star rating is between 4.2-4.5, because a perfect 5-star rating is perceived by consumers as too good to be true.

While a business never wants to aim for negative reviews, their presence adds a level of authenticity to review content, which helps the company build trust with consumers. Plus, as we’ve found, consumers depend on negative reviews to help steer them toward the products that best fit their needs.

A Growing Number of Consumers Seek Out Negative Reviews

Earlier this year, PowerReviews surveyed more than 1,000 American consumers to understand how shopper dependence on reviews has changed over the past few years. As part of this research, we wanted to explore the role of negative reviews in the path to purchase.

One key finding? 85% of shoppers seek out negative reviews, up from 82% in 2014. Notably, this number jumps to 91% among consumers age 18-29. This points to the growing demand for transparency, especially among younger consumers.

Though it may be tempting to delete negative reviews, resist the urge. Negative reviews build trust, and consumers are actively seeking out this content to help them make informed purchase decisions. And remember–what’s considered to be a negative aspect of a product for one consumer may be completely irrelevant for another. For example, if a consumer indicates that a type of shampoo doesn’t work well for people with curly hair, that comment will be deemed irrelevant for a consumer with straight hair.

Start Embracing Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are an important part of the purchase journey. In addition to helping consumers make smart purchase decisions, negative reviews help brands and retailers build trust with shoppers. Read on to get four practical tips for leveraging negative reviews to improve your business

1. Display Reviews, Regardless of Star-Rating

Of course, no business should aim for negative reviews. But displaying this content adds a level of authenticity to your product pages and helps you build trust with shoppers. In fact, research has found that 44% of Centennial shoppers won’t trust a product’s reviews if there are no negative reviews present. So be sure you’re displaying all reviews (after they’ve been moderated for things like fraud and foul language, of course), regardless of star-rating.

2. Get Alerted

Negative reviews are brimming with insights that can help you improve your products and services. But you likely don’t have the time required to constantly monitor each and every review for your entire catalog of products. Ask your ratings and reviews partner if they allow you to receive an automated alert when a review is submitted that’s below a certain star rating — or if it includes specific negative keywords. That way, you can more easily identify trends in negative reviews and determine the best course of action.

3. Share Negative Feedback With Your Teams

Once you identify trends in the negative reviews written for a specific product, be sure you share that feedback with the appropriate teams. For example, Soft Surroundings, a PowerReviews customer, makes and designs all of their apparel in-house and depends on reviews to improve their products. So when they notice trends in negative reviews, they share that feedback with their internal teams to make product changes.

“When we get feedback, it goes directly to our technical design team. The quicker we get feedback, the quicker we can resolve issues,” said Gail Buffington, eCommerce Manager at Soft Surroundings.

4. Respond To Negative Reviews

There’s certainly no need to respond to every review that’s written about your products. But sometimes, it makes sense to respond to a review — especially if it’s a negative one. By responding to a negative review, you’re showing the review writer (as well as future shoppers) that you care about their feedback. When responding to reviews, empathize with the customer’s frustration and let them know you value their input. And if you’re doing anything to improve the product, be sure to mention it.

Learn More

Want to learn more about how consumers are using ratings and reviews — both positive and negative — to make purchase decisions? Download our latest research report.

Want additional best practices for handling negative reviews? Check out our Complete Guide to Handling Negative Reviews

Ready to see how PowerReviews helps businesses like yours drive traffic, conversion and sales with ratings and reviews? Contact us to schedule a demo today.

The Evolving Role of Ratings and Reviews in the Path to Purchase

There was once a time (in the not so distant past) when the idea of asking for feedback from consumers, then displaying that feedback for the world to see, was a pretty radical concept. But that has all changed — and quickly. Today’s consumers have come to expect easily accessible product information — and this includes ratings and reviews written by others like them.

In 2014, PowerReviews conducted a survey to explore the role ratings and reviews play in the path to purchase and found that nearly all consumers (95%) read reviews and 86% considered them an essential resource when making purchase decisions0. But we understand that a lot can change in four years. That’s why we decided to survey more than 1,000 American consumers earlier this year to understand how shopper dependence on reviews has changed over the past few years. Spoiler alert: our latest round of research found that consumers are reading and writing product reviews more than ever before. And, as expected, this content continues to be a top consideration when making purchase decisions.

Read on for key findings from our latest research, as well as four tips for brands and retailers to leverage the growing power of ratings and reviews to satisfy their shoppers’ growing desire for information from others like them.

More Consumers Read Reviews

Previously, when a consumer was in the market for a new product, she’d ask for the opinions of her family and friends. And though traditional word of mouth is alive and well, increasingly, consumers are seeking out the opinions of other consumers — by reading product reviews.

Today, 97% of consumers consult product reviews when making purchase decisions, up from 95% in 2014. Of those shoppers, more than a quarter (26%) consult reviews for every purchase they make online. That number jumps to 30% for consumers age 18–44.

Reviews are an Essential Resource

Reviews have quickly evolved from a “nice to have” to an expected component of the shopping experience. In fact, 89% of consumers consider reviews to be an essential resource when making a purchase decision, up from 86% in 2014.

Reviews have become so essential that many shoppers simply won’t make a purchase without them. 70% of consumers indicate they won’t purchase products online without reading reviews. And over a third (39%) won’t purchase products in a brick-and-mortar store without first consulting reviews.

The message is clear: featuring review content on your website is no longer optional — it’s essential. Businesses that don’t provide this content to their shoppers risk losing them to businesses that do.

Reviews are a Top Purchase Consideration

Consumers weigh a number of different factors when making a purchase decision–from product pricing to the ease of returns. But which factors weigh more heavily when it comes time to commit?

Our latest research found that consumers rank the presence of ratings and reviews as the most important factor impacting purchase decisions, behind only the price of the product itself. Consumers have made it clear that the presence of authentic reviews have a larger impact on purchase decisions than other factors including recommendations from family and friends, the brand of the product and the availability of free shipping.

Reviews Impact Online Shopping Behavior

The availability of reviews impacts where consumers choose to shop online, and whether they make a purchase once they land on a given website. When shopping online, 63% of consumers specifically seek out websites that have product reviews, up from 57% in 2014. And 77% of mobile shoppers are more likely to purchase an item if the website or app offers product reviews, up from 70% in 2014.

Brands and retailers take note: collecting and displaying reviews is a key way to attract — and convert — information-hungry consumers. Those that don’t will lose shoppers —  70% of consumers simply won’t buy products online without reading reviews first.

Reviews Influence In-Store Behavior, Too

It’s clear that reviews play a large role in online shopping behavior. However, it’s important to note that a significant–and growing–number of consumers rely on review content when making in-store purchases, too. Our research found that a growing number of consumers (39%) don’t buy products in stores without first reading reviews, up 8% from consumer research in 2014. This trend will only continue to grow, with 31% of consumers indicating they use reviews to make in-store purchases more today than they did a year ago.

It’s key for brick-and-mortar retailers to ensure review content is easily accessible for in-store shoppers. In addition to ensuring reviews are easy to read via a mobile device, look for opportunities to display ratings and reviews in your physical stores.

Four Tips for Success

With nearly all consumers reading reviews, this content has become an expected part of the path to purchase. Read on for four tips for businesses looking to leverage reviews to attract and convert shoppers.

  1. Collect Reviews: If you’re not already, now’s the time to start requesting reviews from your customers. The most effective way to generate this content is to send a post purchase email, asking consumers to write reviews for recently purchased products. Make sure the entire process for submitting a review is quick, simple and can easily be completed from any device. Finally, ensure it’s easy for your consumers to review multiple products at once.
  2. Make Reviews Front and Center Online: Once you’ve started generating reviews, start prominently displaying this content on your product pages so shoppers can easily find it, regardless of the device they’re using to shop. Look for opportunities to include ratings and reviews on other parts of your website too, including category pages and even your homepage.
  3. Feature Reviews In-Store: A growing number of consumers are turning to reviews to inform in-store purchases. In addition to ensuring this content is easy to find and read on your website from any device, look for opportunities to display review content in your brick-and-mortar store locations. For example, include star ratings and excerpts from reviews on signage alongside key products.
  4. Syndicate Reviews: If you’re a brand that syndicates content to retail sites, you’ll benefit from getting this content in front of more shoppers in more places. And if you’re a retailer that accepts syndicated brand content, you’ll benefit from increased review coverage and depth, without having to generate that content yourselves. Today, retailers receive an average of 58% of their review content from syndication.

Learn More

Curious what else we learned about consumers’ growing dependence on ratings and reviews? Download our latest research report.

Want to learn how PowerReviews can help you start collecting and syndicating more reviews to drive traffic, conversion and sales? Contact us to schedule a demo today.

 

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