A recent article in Supermarket News questioned whether online grocery sales are really positioned to explode in the coming five years. Although the current share of grocery volume through online sales is estimated at only 2%, skeptical grocery retailers who ignore the growth projections and digital consumer shift run the risk not properly supporting physical shopping experiences and ultimately losing volume in their core selling channel.
Increasingly, shoppers planning or executing physical store trips are turning to mobile and digital solutions to guide purchase decisions. 78% of millennials rely on the internet to inform real-world purchases, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics. A survey of nearly 3,000 affluent US shoppers reported that 37% read ratings and reviews on their mobile devices while they are shopping in-store. Many categories carried in grocery retail are driven by experience and content, rather than promotional activity. Ever tried to move the needle promotionally on vitamins outside of January? How much mascara are beauty shoppers willing to stockpile due to a BOGO event?
Shopper-generated content is increasingly the coin in the retail realm. It is one arrow in the mobile-digital quiver of omnichannel retailers. Home and garden shoppers are regularly turning to their mobile devices to help identify in-store product locations and product ratings to speed their store visits. And the friction in accessing shopper-generated content is decreasing at a rapid rate. Many retail mobile apps include product scanning capabilities to access pricing, nutritional information, usage videos, question and answer submission portals and shopper generated reviews. As shoppers grow accustomed to these features in other channels, they will begin to expect them from the retailers they visit most often: grocers.
At PowerReviews, we are dedicated to enabling the consumer packaged good manufacturer and retailer ecosystem with the ability to collect and distribute shopper-generated content from physical and digital shopping trips across all categories. These include center store and perimeter categories like the floral department, the deli and the custom-order bakery. These insights help shoppers make informed decisions about new product trials while assisting retailers and manufacturers with insights to improve product and service offerings. Our cloud-based platform easily integrates into retailer and manufacturer websites and mobile apps to capture and share the opinions of shoppers. The PowerReviews Open Network matches reviews to the UPC or manufacturer level and enables the reviews collected at one touchpoint to be shared through other channels selling the same product.
Don’t think that eCommerce is the only reason you might need to connect with your shopping community through mobile digital platforms. Doing so could jeopardize in-store trips already underway. Do you really want to risk shoppers turning to Amazon to learn about the products you carry while in your store? That sounds like a recipe for disaster!
CHICAGO – October 22, 2018 – PowerReviews, a global technology leader in reviews and user-generated social content to more than 1,000 brands and retailers, today announced that the company has hired Jillian Sheehan as Chief Financial Officer. In this position, Sheehan will oversee all finance and accounting operations and partner with PowerReviews’ leadership team to support the company’s rapid growth.
“Jillian has a strong record of leading finance and accounting functions at high-growth technology companies,” said Matt Moog, Chief Executive Officer at PowerReviews. “Her experience and leadership will play a crucial role in supporting our ongoing growth strategy. We are thrilled to have Jillian join our team.”
Sheehan has more than 18 years of finance and accounting leadership experience at technology companies. Most notably, Sheehan spent 10 years at Textura Corporation as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer where she built and led a finance team from an early stage startup through IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, and later led the sale to Oracle Corporation in 2016. Most recently, Sheehan served as Chief Financial Officer at Aquilon Energy Services. At PowerReviews, Sheehan will lead financial management and planning with strong finance and accounting teams as well as partner with the leadership team to execute on the company’s growth strategy.
“PowerReviews is addressing a big market opportunity with its innovative product offerings,” said Jillian Sheehan, CFO at PowerReviews. “I’m excited to join a strong, talented leadership team and support PowerReviews’ continued growth.”
PowerReviews works with more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to collect and syndicate user-generated content and feedback such as reviews, Q&A, images, video and more. Content is syndicated across The PowerReviews Open Network reaching more than one billion in-market shoppers every month at the right time and place. User-generated content gives shoppers confidence to make purchases and delivers actionable insights to brands and retailers to drive more traffic, increase sales and improve products and services. To learn more, visit www.powerreviews.com.
Amazon just opened a physical store in New York where all of the products are either highly rated (4+ stars) or top sellers in their eCommerce channel. Brick and mortar competitors should take note of this strategy that is being made possible by the hundreds of millions of shopper-generated ratings and reviews that Amazon customers have come to expect to help them to make informed purchasing decisions. Amazon deduced rather easily that shopper-generated ratings and reviews provide the confidence and context necessary for shoppers to make purchase decisions faster and more effectively than ever before.
Major grocery retailers have all the ingredients necessary to deliver a similar confident shopping experience to their customers. And they don’t even need to be fully invested in eCommerce to enable this capability. Here are a few ways grocery retailers are beating Amazon at their own game:
Mobile Apps with Product Content
Most major grocery retailers have mobile apps that typically promote weekly circular ads and distribute digital coupons. Many of these apps have the ability to scan product UPCs in order to access product pages with images, pricing and nutritional information. Adding ratings and reviews is a simple widget or API call away.
Content-Rich Shelf Tags
Retailers are already leveraging shelf tags to communicate content beyond price. Many grocery retailers now include nutritional value scores, healthy lifestyle identifiers (gluten-free, non-GMO, etc) or available digital coupons on product shelf tags. Grocery retailers can now follow the lead of beauty retailers like Ulta by including ratings so shoppers can see how others have evaluated product performance.
If retailers are disciplined, they can leverage these strategies to further engage even more with shoppers:
New Products Should Come with Content
All new products that grocery retailers list should come with ratings and reviews ready to include in their product pages. At PowerReviews, we work with many manufacturers to launch influencer campaigns via our BzzAgent platform prior to product launch to generate content that can be shared with retailers as their products reach physical stores. The ratings can be easily included on physical displays and on mobile/web product pages.
eCommerce Not Needed to Collect Content
Retailers with active frequent shopper programs don’t need eCommerce to collect ratings and reviews. They already know what their shoppers are purchasing. At PowerReviews, we work with brick and mortar retailers to leverage their loyalty data, targeting shoppers purchasing specific products for which content is needed. We then execute email campaigns to solicit reviews shortly after the store trip has occurred.
Drive Private Label Conversion
One of the biggest obstacles to shopper adoption of store brands is consumer confidence over product quality. Actively soliciting ratings and reviews via targeted FSP campaigns as noted above, coupled with shelf tags and product page placement will accelerate a retailer’s private label penetration efforts.
Maintain an Open Network for Content
Retailers like Walmart, BJ’s, Sam’s Club and Dollar General all participate in an open network of syndicated shopper-generated content in the form of ratings and reviews. Since the content is matched at a UPC or brand level, it ensures that shoppers are exposed to relevant content regardless of where the product was reviewed. In this way, all retailers benefit from a network of content that is related to the products they are selling through their omnichannel mechanisms.
Don’t Be Afraid of Amazon
Amazon is showing its physical competitors how to leverage shopper-generated content to reduce friction on the path to purchase. Grocery retailers have the ability to compete without the need for a fully-scaled eCommerce platform. If they work with the assets already in place, they can mount a credible competitive approach to engage their shoppers and protect market share from Amazon.
By now most brands and retailers know that for the last six years, PowerReviews and Bazaarvoice have “cross-syndicated” brand content to our respective retailers. Bazaarvoice was compelled to do so after a court determined they had violated the law and acted anti-competitively when they acquired and were subsequently forced to divest PowerReviews nearly four years ago.
As of July 3, 2018, the cross-network syndication agreement started a one-year, wind-down period to ensure a smooth transition to an open network where brands are able to syndicate directly to retailers without paying access fees. As previously announced, PowerReviews will continue accepting and sharing review content from brands using Bazaarvoice during the wind-down period. Unfortunately, Bazaarvoice, over the objection of their retail clients, stopped accepting content from new brands using PowerReviews on July 1, 2018, and recently stated they stopped accepting new content from existing brands as of September 30 unless brands signed an agreement to pay them access fees. We have recently seen evidence of Bazaarvoice attempting to charge brands double or triple the total fees that brands pay to use the PowerReviews platform and participate in the PowerReviews Open Network.
Fortunately, PowerReviews is offering brands and retailers an open alternative that is both technology agnostic and free of access fees. The PowerReviews Open Network is open to brands and retailers regardless of their review platform and it does not impose access fees. In addition to the 150+ retailers using the PowerReviews platform, 30 of the world’s largest retailers using other platforms have agreed to participate and accept brand content directly from PowerReviews. Retailers participating in the PowerReviews Open Network account for more than $1 trillion in total sales, $70 billion in online sales, reaches billions of shoppers and includes content from 1,000+ leading brands.
Despite having agreements in place with retailers, Bazaarvoice is telling the market that they control what content appears on their retailers’ sites. This is simply false. The retailers decide what content appears on their site, not Bazaarvoice nor any third party.
PowerReviews has a no cost, simple solution to ensure continued syndication for brands and retailers
PowerReviews has created pre-matched, pre-moderated files for nearly every major retailer using Bazaarvoice. Those files will continue to be updated on a daily basis with new review content from brands at no cost. There is no technical limitation to ingesting these files. PowerReviews has been sharing files with Bazaarvoice via direct feeds to syndicate review content for the last seven years. We can accept these files. So can Bazaarvoice. This is why review syndication between Jet and Bazaarvoice’s largest retail customer remains uninterrupted between Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews. Should Bazaarvoice not accept these files, PowerReviews will continue to work with retailers to provide them several options to accept brand content directly at no cost.
PowerReviews has industry leading moderation and authenticity standards. Those standards have been approved by the largest brands and retailers in the world, and have been accepted by Bazaarvoice for the last 7 years. These standards will continue.
More Benefits of The PowerReviews Open Network
As many of you know, last year PowerReviews received overwhelming industry support for an open syndication network. Brands and retailers were clear and unanimous in their desire for an affordable and accessible review syndication network. The PowerReviews Open Network was built to provide faster setup times, better product matching capabilities and new content types for syndication such as Q&A, images and video, all with no access fees for brands.
With this open and innovative approach, the largest retailers in the world signed direct agreements with PowerReviews. Today, the PowerReviews Open Network impacts more than $1 trillion in total sales and has 1,000+ leading brands participating including GlaxoSmithKline, The North Face, Ugg and World Kitchen and more. More than 25% of the top 100 CPG companies in the world use PowerReviews.
We are actively working through this transition with retailers on the Bazaarvoice platform, and we will continue to make content available.