With stores not open to the public, our shopping behaviors have been completely disrupted. As widely reported, ecommerce has become the core channel for consumption. For many brands, it’s the one key aspect of their business that’s going well. 

Many are looking to pivot on this COVID-19 ecommerce phenomenon to pave a path for growth. Read on to learn why building on your ecommerce success via a targeted customer engagement strategy can sow the seeds for long-term revenue growth.

A new Global Shopping Index report published by Salesforce cites some pretty unprecedented digital commerce statistics. But then again, these are completely unprecedented times. 

The number of unique digital shoppers rose 40% year-over-year, caused by this dramatic shift we’ve all experienced in consumer behavior from physical to digital browsing and buying. Digital shoppers drove a 20% revenue growth in Q1 2020, compared to 12% in Q1 2019.

Many brands are reporting increased order volumes in line with what they only usually only see during the holiday shopping season. Our own research backs this up conclusively, and shows brands are experiencing increased page view and purchase volumes. 

As some States begin to reopen, most Americans remain uneasy about venturing out, with one study showing 67% are uncomfortable going into a retail store. Given this ambivalence, expect ecommerce to remain robust for the foreseeable future. 

‘Don’t Rest on Your Laurels’ 

Brands have an incredible opportunity to continue this momentum by driving even more digital engagement – both in acquiring  new customers and nurturing their existing/loyal customer base. 

Matt Powell, Vice President and Senior Industry Advisor at the NPD Group underscores this opportunity, “Ecommerce has been a lifeline for many brands and retailers. More and more customers are shopping online, and for products they likely would have never bought pre-pandemic. I believe we can expect consumers to continue moving online as we ease our way out of the crisis. Now is the time for brands and retailers to double down on their online business. ‘Digital first’ must be the mantra of retail now. Don’t rest on your laurels, as there is always room for improvement. Make your website the best it can be.”

During this time when consumers desperately need to feel connected and assured that a brand can be trusted with their business, some are leveraging customer content to deliver the improvements Powell talks about. Customer stories offer powerful validation that build trust and authenticity by highlighting how consumers are engaging with your brand and the products you offer.

Most importantly, they are proven to help drive increased site traffic and purchases. Even a single product review can make a big difference to your bottom line.

According to our extensive ratings and review data (we analyzed 168k product pages, 28 million orders and 321 million page views), we found that the more reviews displayed for a product, the higher the conversion rate. But, even a small volume of reviews has an impact. To illustrate this point, a jump from zero to one customer review results in a 7% increase in conversion levels for that product on average. This increases steadily until you hit 50 reviews, which we consider the sweet spot. At this point, the lift in conversion rate is 21% on average… Pretty impactful numbers!

Pro Tip: Focus Your Customer Content Strategy on Mitigating Returns 

Brands experiencing a high volume of ecommerce orders can typically expect at least some returns. Product returns have always been the achilles heel for retailers, and even more so now in the COVID-19 wake of shuttered storefronts and economic uncertainty. 

Returns seriously erode revenues. In one study, Boston University researchers found returns cost manufacturers and retailers as much as $100 billion annually or 3.8% of revenue.

But the same study found that customer content – or more specifically, product reviews – help consumers make better purchase decisions and lead to fewer product returns. Bottom line: online product reviews are critical to enhancing strategic competitiveness, boosting revenue and reducing costs.

Why? Customer content answers questions upfront, supporting consumers’ efforts to select a product that fits their specific need. Think about it: if – as a browser – you’re faced with a product page that includes product images submitted by customers and maybe even Q&A-type content, you are far more likely to obtain the answers to any questions you have (i.e. around issues ranging from size/fit to color and plug any unconsidered gaps in the product description), while also demonstrating relatability – all in a uniquely scalable and authentic way.

This does more than sell merchandise, it can help ensure the product – once it leaves the distribution center – doesn’t come back via the returns channel. 

Steal These Customer Engagement Best Practices

Over the years, PowerReviews has worked with leading brands to help them formulate killer customer engagement strategies to drive high-octane ecommerce growth. I’ve taken the liberty of making a list of these — in some cases, noting particular COVID-19 implications that make these especially relevant right now. 

1. Send a follow-up email after an order is placed urging shoppers to review their purchases.

This proactive strategy generates up to 90% of review collection. Formulating your email is important. Think short and simple and be clear and concise in stating your review ask.  

2. Be purposeful to collect content that is specific and actionable.

By asking for specifics, you can gather vital user information to help answer real buyer needs, such as what is the size and fit of this item? (60% of all returns can be attributed to fit issues), and, what are the best uses of this item? You should be aiming to extract existing thoughts rather than influence the content. Your typical reviewer is not a professional writer and may not even know what average customers look for. So make the writing a review process quick and easy with prepopulated tabs.

3. Focus on images.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to reviews, it could be worth a thousand orders. Images are particularly critical for product segments such as fashion and beauty as consumers don’t have ready access to stores where they can try things on and test things out. Consumers are scanning images to assess questions such as: Will this Perfect Passion Pink lipstick look good on me? Seeing the image of another individual with the same hair and skin color wearing this shade of lipstick (and demonstrating this shade of pink is on point) – for example – is seriously impactful. Formulate your review to ask for an image first and keep in mind the opportunity to repurpose or cross-post images by curating from social media platforms such as Instagram. These offer a treasure trove of visual content that can be collected and integrated into product pages to provide scale, plug any product description gaps and establish the buyer confidence necessary for customers to hit the “buy” button.

4. Spend extra time connecting with your followers and posting on your social media outlets.

In the post-COVID-19 era, consumers are online more than ever. Reports are flooding in regarding skyrocketing screen time in light of social distancing measures, with individuals reporting increases in screen time ranging from 35 to 68%. Take advantage of this opportunity by engaging with the community you’ve built to ask for reviews.

5. Provide the ability for users to ask questions and provide answers on your site.

Satisfy your site visitors by giving them the information they want and need without having to navigate to other pages on your site. Providing answers to consumers’ questions builds trust and removes barriers to purchase while improving SEO. On average, when a product goes from displaying no answers to at least one answer, brands and retailers see an 88% lift in traffic and an 82% lift in conversion for that product. Anecdotal evidence from many of our customers indicates that Q&A content is playing an important role during the shifting COVID-19 ecommerce landscape. For example, Tim Lakin, ecommerce Merchandising Manager at Skechers, told us: “I am definitely seeing an increase in customer reviews and questions indicating a lot of customers are shopping online who would not normally be doing so – even to the point where a customer may not know their own shoe size and would rely heavily on review information. Naturally, we want to accommodate those customers since our website is now taking the place of our retail stores in many states, and the store associates and in-store experience as well.”

6. Identify and close review sharing gaps.

Sharing the customer content you collect on your brand with retailers makes it easier for them to sell your product. This also helps with SEO, making your products easier to find thereby increasing impressions and traffic. To assess the best opportunities, look at key categories that are receiving a high volume of traffic but which are not deemed “essential” items. So think self-care, home improvement, etc., These represent “killer COVID-19 categories” where reviews and content can enhance sales and SEO.

7. Consider a sampling strategy.

One ultra-effective way to solicit customer feedback is by giving consumers the opportunity to experience a product in exchange for their input, whether through a review or on social media. PowerReviews clients typically experience an 85% response rate to sampling campaigns. Recently, however, brands have experienced issues with sample product availability, fulfillment issues, and shipping delays. So be sure to understand what, if any, COVID-19 constraints could impact your sampling campaign execution. But I can’t stress enough how the conditions caused by the pandemic are uniquely suited to sampling campaigns. Although times are rough, people are looking for things to do. Experimenting with a new (free) product may provide some welcome escapism.

8. Show empathy.

We are living in unprecedented times and now more than ever, we appreciate the connections with others – precisely because we can’t physically interact with one another. Brands have an opportunity to step up. As RSR Research Industry Analyst Paula Rosenblum has said, “It’s time to show the world what we are made of,” noting, “consumers won’t forget.” Responding to reviews or via social media to build and nurture your customer community can have a very strong and positive impact. As well, ask yourself what you can offer to help your customers at this time. Maybe that’s offering free shipping, maybe it’s a virtual try-on utility or double loyalty points. 

Is your ecommerce/digital team employing any of the above customer engagement strategies? If you are a PowerReviews customer, reach out to your Customer Success Manager to discuss the best strategies to leverage our solution to achieve your objectives. If you’re not a PowerReviews customer, we’d love to hear from you.

Dominique Divito

Dominique is a Senior Client Success Manager at PowerReviews, where she has been helping drive ecommerce growth at some of the biggest brands in the world for 2.5 years. She (genuinely) prefers shopping online than in-store and prides herself on being pretty good at it. It is perhaps therefore no surprise that she is on first name terms with her UPS driver. (Hi Mike!)

MAY 21, 2020 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS— WEBS – America’s Yarn Store today reveals how it has, since 2011, been leveraging PowerReviews’ technologies to deliver social proof, increase social media engagement and generate more online sales.

Since partnering with PowerReviews, WEBS has natively solicited and showcased over 4,000 customer-generated images on its site. In just a few months of using PowerReviews social media solution, the organization was also able to showcase hundreds of images from Instagram by tapping into the large pool of visual content many customers were already creating and sharing.

WEBS has natively solicited and showcased over 4,000 customer-generated images on its site.

This visual content, along with over 54,000 reviews with an average star rating of 4.5 across multiple product categories, gives customers the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision for products that are traditionally more suited to an in-person sale.

Dena Childs, Ecommerce Manager at WEBS – America’s Yarn Store, says:

“Reviews and visual content are critical in helping our audience understand how our yarn will look and feel before they buy online. The ability to display content from other customers who have first-hand experience in our products has been vital in facilitating the shoppers’ decision making process.

“You never want a customer to leave your website, hoping to find the information they need somewhere else. Customer content builds confidence, and PowerReviews has allowed us to showcase that social proof on our site, facilitating the path to purchase for our customers.”

Saarah Shaikh, Senior Director of Customer Success at PowerReviews, says:

“We are delighted that WEBS is clearly gaining so much value from our solutions. We know high volumes of authentic reviews deliver exceptional social proof that lead to conversions. This is even more important for products that customers need extra information about before purchasing.”

This information is taken from a newly-published case study, which can be accessed on the PowerReviews website here.

 

PowerReviews logo

ABOUT POWERREVIEWS

PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) is a software and data company that works with 1000+ leading brands and retailers to bring authenticity and transparency to commerce.  The PowerReviews Customer Content Platform has three solutions that help our customers collect and manage customer-generated content to improve the product and customer experience across the customer journey. We help clients meet the evolving need for social proof, accelerating the path to purchase and brand advocacy. 

PowerReviews is known for innovation, consultative partnership, and actionable insights, supported by our open platform and approach. Our dedicated team of experts provides thoughtful analysis and turn-key service. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

ABOUT WEBS

As one of the premier yarn stores in the country, WEBS – America’s Yarn Store (yarn.com) fuels the creativity and passion of knitters, crocheters, weavers, spinners and other fiber enthusiasts.

The Perfect Review:
At a Glance

When thinking about the concept of “the perfect review,” always remember the purpose of any customer-generated content. Reviews are simply a vehicle for building trust with customers by delivering an authentic depiction of your products.

But what exactly makes a “perfect review?“

See the perfect review below, or

Informative Title

Titles need to grab shopper attention quickly.

Verified Buyer

Ensures content is 100% reliable, and more valued by consumers.

Relatable Stories

Real-life accounts of use cases add value and color that is critical to the buying decision.

Length

Reviews longer than 500 characters are proven to generate a greater number of conversions.

Better than shirts double the price, super happy with fit for my long arms

I’m 6”1’ and was looking for a slim fit shirt that looks great for work at a good price. I have especially long arms (35 inches) and most shirts come up short. But this shirt fit like it was tailored for me. The quality is also fantastic, I have bought shirts for double the price that have not felt as good to wear.

 

I work in a “business casual” office, but my coworkers definitely dress to impress so looking good is important. I was super happy to get a number of compliments the first couple of times I wore it from my work friends.

 

I was looking for a good fit and durability. I will be wearing it probably once every week so it needs to hold up. It has been through the laundry five times and the quality is as it was when I bought it. I certainly have not noticed any worsening in the fabric. Durability is as good as any item of clothing I’ve ever owned; only thing that seems iffy is the buttons on one cuff, but that’s not a huge deal.

 

Although I originally bought it for work, I would definitely wear it socially – it would work just as well for a nice dinner or drinks. Overall I’m super pleased with the purchase. I will definitely be buying more of these shirts in different colors.

Pros

Cons

5/5
Customer Image
Uploaded 2.19.2020

Rating

Five star reviews are ideal but consumers value authenticity above all. An artificially-inflated rating will only lead to distrust of your brand.

Contextual Media

Authentic imagery and video “out in the wild” adds unrivalled credibility.

Profile Info

Specific demographic detail to make content relatable and relevant.

I’m 6”1’ and was looking for a slim fit shirt that looks great for work at a good price. I have especially long arms (35 inches) and most shirts come up short. But this shirt fit like it was tailored for me. The quality is also fantastic, I have bought shirts for double the price that have not felt as good to wear.

 

(Read More…)

Pros

Cons

5/5

Better than shirts double the price, super happy with fit for my long arms

Customer Image
Uploaded 2.19.2020

Get more insights in the latest PowerReviews guide:

The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Review
and how to cultivate more of them

Impact of Reviews on Conversions

Reviews convert browsers into buyers. Learn how to leverage the best ones, and see why you’re leaving dollars on the table with inadequate reviews.

The Anatomy of a perfect review

A perfect review has a number of elements. Understand exactly what these are (including the data that proves it) by downloading this Guide.

6 Strategies to collect better reviews

Learn six strategies you can start leveraging right now to generate the best-quality reviews for any product or campaign.

Get all these insights and more...

Paige Thulin

Reviews are one of the top factors influencing a shopper’s decision to make a purchase. And as it turns out, consumers have started to depend on reviews even more during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our own analysis found that throughout March and April, consumers engaged with reviews prior to making a purchase at double the rate they were previously. 

Thanks to widespread stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures, more consumers are shopping online. And clearly, reviews help them make informed purchase decisions. 

Of course, reviews benefit brands, too. Reviews are proven to boost traffic and conversion, while providing actionable insights that can help a brand improve its products and the customer experience.

Reviews also give brands the opportunity to engage with shoppers and resolve customer service issues, which foster loyalty and contributes to a strong reputation.  

In order to reap these benefits, though, brands must closely monitor their review content. All too often, this is a time-consuming process — and one that’s inherently flawed. Content slips through the cracks, which can tarnish trust. And because data is often siloed, a brand never gets a complete, accurate picture of how they are (or aren’t) meeting consumers’ needs. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Review consolidation — the process of aggregating all review content across channels into one dashboard — can ease the burden and make it easier to manage your brand’s online reputation. 

Let’s take a closer look at where shoppers are reading and writing reviews, how review consolidation works and how it can positively impact your business. 

Where Shoppers Write Reviews

Before exploring the mechanics of review consolidation, it’s important to understand the burden of manually managing reviews. And the best place to start is to take a look at where shoppers are writing and reading reviews. 

Most brands sell their products through a number of different channels. For example, a health and beauty brand might sell a moisturizer directly through its own eCommerce website, through a network of retail partners (e.g. Target, Walmart etc.) and on eCommerce marketplaces, such as Amazon. Of course, shoppers can write products reviews on any of the sites where the item is sold.

To further complicate things, shoppers can also write reviews about a store location, website, mobile app or the business itself on other platforms and channels.

For some brands, managing this content means someone logging into a dozen or more dashboards each day, determining which content needs action and manually assigning it to the appropriate person or team to handle. In order to respond to a review, they have to log back in to the appropriate dashboard.

This process is inefficient and leaves a lot of room for error.

How Review Consolidation Works 

Recently, however, a growing number of brands have started to use review consolidation technology. Review consolidation technology centralizes reviews written across all of the channels mentioned above into a single dashboard. That means a brand uses one dashboard to see reviews, engage with and respond to them and escalate them to the right team — regardless of where the review was written. 

Some review consolidation tools connect with a CRM like Salesforce to automatically create services cases and alerts, based on keywords or the star rating. Brands that also use Salesforce Service Cloud can see and manage all customer service issues in one spot, regardless of whether the issue originates from chat, email, social media, phone or a review.

5 Ways Review Consolidation Benefits Brands

Before investing in review consolidation technology, it’s important to understand how it can help your brand foster authentic engagement and boost your bottom line.

Let’s take a look at five key ways review consolidation positively impacts brands. 

1. Saves Time

The most obvious benefit of review consolidation is that it saves time. Your customer care or marketing teams are no longer required to comb through various sites each day in order to effectively manage reviews. 

Instead, these teams can focus their time and energy on activities that will build your brand’s online reputation and drive revenue growth. Customer service teams can focus on engaging with shoppers. And marketing teams can spend their time developing strategies and campaigns to attract and retain customers.

2. Provides a Holistic Picture of Performance  

Reviews are a gold mine of insights that can be used to help your brand better serve its customers. But if you’re managing reviews from several different platforms, it can be difficult to garner those insights. Each platform reports on different metrics, and data is siloed. 

Let’s go back to the moisturizer example we used earlier. You notice the average star rating for the moisturizer is high on your own eCommerce website. But the average star rating is significantly lower on Amazon. You’re getting little bits and pieces of data here — but what’s the full story? 

When you consolidate your reviews into a single platform, you get a more comprehensive look at how a particular product — and your brand as a whole — are performing across all channels. You’re better able to identify strengths and weaknesses and understand overall sentiment for each product. And you can see how this performance changes over time. 

With comprehensive insights, you’re better equipped to make smart, data-based decisions for your business. For example, if that moisturizer generates one- and two-star reviews across all channels, you can dig deeper to identify ways to improve it — or pull the product altogether. 

3. Allows for Quick Resolution of Customer Service Issues

Many times, a negative review simply reflects the tastes and preferences of a specific consumer. For example, a reviewer might indicate they don’t like the taste or texture of a protein bar. But in other cases, a negative review can be indicative of a larger issue that needs to be addressed and resolved. For example, if a review indicated a shopper got violently ill after eating the protein bar.

If you manually manage your reviews, it’s likely some of this negative content will slip through the cracks. And this can carry some big consequences for your brand’s reputation. For starters, you’ll have an angry customer with an unresolved issue that’s likely to ditch your brand altogether. A survey from Gladly found that half of people will switch brands after just one or two bad experiences.

And future shoppers will see the unresolved issue, which is likely to deter them from purchasing your products. What’s more, highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals must follow FDA guidelines on handling complaints in reviews. If they don’t, they risk fines and a damaged reputation. 

With review consolidation technology, all of your content is in one place so you don’t have to worry about missing a critical review. What’s more, if you also use review consolidation technology and Salesforce Service Cloud, all of your customer service cases are available in one location, regardless of whether they were initiated through a review or another channel like email or chat.

Plus, issues get automatically routed to the right person based on factors like keyword or star rating, so they can be resolved quickly. Shoppers will see that you care about their concerns, and you’ll build a reputation as a compliant brand that listens to its customers.

4. Uncovers Opportunities for Authentic Engagement with Shoppers

Of course, it’s important to resolve issues that come up in negative reviews. But positive reviews also offer opportunities for brands to authentically engage with shoppers. Even a simple “Thanks for your feedback. We love having you as a customer!” can go a long way in fostering loyalty.

Review consolidation makes it easier to identify these opportunities for engagement. Your teams can see all reviews — and respond to them — through one platform. And because they’re not spending their time manually routing reviews, they can focus on building authentic connections with shoppers. 

5. Facilitates Strong Partnerships with Retail Partners

If you’re like most brands, you sell your products through a network of retail partners. If so, you’re well aware that good brand/retailer relationships are key to mutual success.

Of course, retailers want to partner with brands that manufacture quality products. But they also want to work with brands that take good care of their customers — even when something goes wrong. One key way retailers measure this is by how quickly a brand responds to customer service issues. If you habitually fail to respond quickly (or at all) to issues that are raised in reviews, a retailer may opt to partner with a different brand…and you may lose an important channel for revenue.

With review consolidation technology, you don’t have to worry about missing a review and failing to respond per your agreed upon service level agreement (SLA). Instead, retailers will see that you’re a dependable brand that cares about its customers. 

Consolidate Reviews to Grow Your Brand

Ratings and reviews are beneficial to consumers and brands alike. But brands must effectively manage their reviews in order to experience the benefits. Consolidating all reviews into one platform makes it easier for brands to engage with shoppers, build trust, and grow revenue. 


This blog was originally published by our partner, Reputation Studio, which offers review consolidation capabilities to PowerReviews customers. Visit the dedicated section of our website to find out more about the complementary technologies our solutions integrate with. Alternatively, reach out to us direct.

MAY 14, 2020 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS— PowerReviews today announces competitive updates to its API, which will enable powerful new integrations with select technology partners and improve the usability of its entire platform. 

The updated PowerReviews API enables turnkey integrations, provides greater data support for enterprise retailers and brands, and supports organizations that choose to build their own custom web and mobile applications. The Chicago-based technology vendor has also added brand new endpoints to make management of all aspects of its platform – from orders to products to moderation – from other solutions far easier. 

“One of our top priorities at PowerReviews is to make our platform easier to use. And we believe these API updates, along with new integrations, will significantly improve our offering and allow us to seamlessly integrate into our clients’ workflows,” said Cristian Pina, the Product Manager leading the API updates at PowerReviews. “We’ve partnered with great technology providers to offer top-notch integrations and we’re excited for the value this will bring to our users.”

The new updates also come with an updated documentation site, designed specifically with developers in mind, to make the implementation process quick and painless. For more information on the PowerReviews API and available integrations, check out this blog post also released today.

ABOUT POWERREVIEWS

PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) is a software and data company that works with 1000+ leading brands and retailers to bring authenticity and transparency to commerce.  The PowerReviews Customer Content Platform has three solutions that help our customers collect and manage customer-generated content to improve the product and customer experience across the customer journey. We help clients meet the evolving need for social proof, accelerating the path to purchase and brand advocacy.

PowerReviews is known for innovation, consultative partnership, and actionable insights, supported by our open platform and approach. Our dedicated team of experts provides thoughtful analysis and turn-key service. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

We are relentless in our pursuit to make our PowerReviews platform easier-to-use. We are focused on this objective day-in and day-out. And this is why we’ve recently made significant upgrades to our API technologies while building a number of new exciting third-party integration partnerships. Now realize even more value from your PowerReviews solution. Read on to find out more. 

Table of Contents

What’s new at PowerReviews on the integration front?

Our team just launched new API capabilities, which is really exciting. Our API enables us to integrate our platform with other third-party systems, which in turn, enables our clients to:

  • Integrate the customer content they collect with other important partner systems
  • Send the data they collect anywhere in their tech stacks
  • Build custom web and mobile applications

The PowerReviews API supports bulk imports and exports of data while still providing clients with quicker data transfers — all while keeping sensitive data safe. Plus, we’ve added brand new, competitive endpoints for managing everything from orders to products to moderation.

We also just launched a brand new API documentation site. We built this site with developers in mind, to help our clients and their teams through the integration process. 

What is an API and how does it help PowerReviews clients?

Technically, an API is an Application Programming Interface. Non-technically, APIs allow our system to communicate with other systems. 

What does this mean if you’re a PowerReviews customer?

For one, our API allows us to build powerful and valuable integrations with complementary third-party technologies. We are realistic enough to know that we’re not the only third-party vendor our customers typically work with on a day-to-day basis, so our API allows our technology to talk to the other technologies — creating significant usability improvements and driving exponentially greater value.

For example:

A handful of brands use both PowerReviews and Sprinklr on a day-to-day basis. They collect and manage customer-generated content with our platform, then use the Sprinklr platform to manage their customers’ experience. 

Through our integration with Sprinklr, brands and retailers can now seamlessly share customer content to their Sprinklr platform – from which they can now manage their Ratings & Reviews and Q&A content. These organizations can interact with their customers by responding to reviews and answering any questions directly from the Sprinklr platform. In addition, they can now also use their Sprinklr platform to amplify their customer content across important social media channels.

Second, these updates give brands and retailers another way to implement our solution. Building custom applications leveraging our new Enterprise API is best for larger organizations that may not want to implement our Javascript on their site. As an alternative, they can instead use our API to collect and display customer-generated content.

What is the benefit of having these integrations?

The PowerReviews platform offers a ton of value. And these other technologies also offer a ton of value. Combined, they add up to more than the sum of their parts.

These integrations allow organizations to seamlessly extend the reach and impact of the customer-generated content they collect through the PowerReviews platform by connecting it with the other important technology systems they use.

What third-party systems do PowerReviews integrate with?

We have integrations with the following partners, which means no development work is required to pair our technologies together. If you are already a PowerReviews customer and would like to explore activating one of these integrations, your Customer Success Manager will be able to provide more details.

Integrate PowerReviews with:

  • Sprinklr: Amplify your PowerReviews review content across social media with Sprinklr. 
  • Zendesk: Manage and respond to customer issues left in reviews, alongside any others received through the Zendesk platform.
  • Astute: Blend human and artificial intelligence to enhance consumer review engagement, through our integration with Astute.
  • Reputation Studio: Improved reputation management with in-the-moment response to customer review content from within Salesforce

We also have partnerships in place with all the main ecommerce platforms. Integrate our ratings and reviews platforms into stores hosted on Shopify, Shopify Plus, Magento, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

And we’re just getting started. We’re working with a number of other technology vendors to integrate our platforms with theirs to deliver even greater value. If you are interested in finding out more – or indeed are a vendor which would like to establish an integration with our solution(s) – reach out to us today!

Cristian Pina

As a Product Manager at PowerReviews, Cristian focuses on solving customer challenges with innovative technical solutions to deliver easy to use and engaging products. With over ten years of technology experience, Cristian helps guide the vision for our products and rallies cross-functional teams to deliver innovative solutions.

PowerSitters

What can you do in 30 minutes?

PowerReviews parents have been doing their best to balance the responsibilities of their job with the responsibilities of being a full time teacher/care-giver/butler/chef/referee/etc ever since this crisis began.

 

We know many of you are in the same boat and could probably use a little time back in your week. So we are launching PowerSitters, a webinar video broadcast geared towards kids ages 3-8.

 

During every PowerSitters session, a PowerReviews parent will read some of their children’s favorite books to your children via Zoom. Here is a video from a previous session

slider8

At the start of the month, we released our Market Trends Snapshot – an overview of what’s going on in ecommerce right now. As we all know, these are unprecedented times and the data really spoke to that.

We hosted a webinar last week presenting a deeper dive into the findings. During this, we provided in-depth analysis of the overall sales, web traffic and review engagement/submission trends highlighted in the original snapshot data. We also looked at some super interesting health and beauty-specific trends, including sales volumes and review insights in this vertical.

You can check out the recording of the webinar here. Otherwise, read on for an in-depth overview of all we covered plus the answers to questions posed by webinar participants.

Contents

What is the PowerReviews Market Trends Snapshot?

These insights come from analysis of consumer behavior across more than 1.5m product pages on more than 1,200 brand and retailer sites throughout between February 24 and April 24 2020. So they can be considered highly representative of existing market trends. It is published on the first of every month at PowerReviews.com/Insights.

Summary recap

As I mentioned, we originally released this information here. But we explain in more detail in the webinar. Here are some highlights we discussed:

Sales volumes increase 210%

We tracked growth rates from Feb 24 to demonstrate how consumer behavior has shifted during the pandemic. In March, we saw a massive spike in order volumes but page visits remained relatively flat. The massive 101% growth in sales volumes seemingly coincided with the timing of many states implementing “stay at home” orders. Our hypothesis back then was that shoppers were “stocking up” on lower-consideration items. People were buying, not shopping. 

But growth has continued at the same rapid rate. Orders peaked at a 210% increase on April 15. By the end of the month, sales were still up 150% on pre-pandemic levels.

We also are now seeing a more meaningful increase in page visits as well. These are up 63% above pre-pandemic levels in late April. This can be attributed to channel shifting, as customers who would never shopped online before are now starting to do so. But given that order increases still outpace traffic increases significantly, shoppers are doing far more buying than browsing.

Volume of reviews submitted starts to rise

We know purchase levels are increasing. But throughout March, review submissions had actually remained fairly steady. As we moved into April, however, these began to climb too – peaking at up 36% in late April.

This obviously pales in comparison to the rise in order volumes. But it’s super important to note that this is a percentage figure based on a much larger denominator of larger order volumes generally. So, total volumes of  customer generated content are at much higher levels than two months ago.

To put it in context, our moderation team is working on review submissions levels close to those they would typically expect in peak Holiday season. This is obviously the busiest time of the year in ecommerce bar none. So quite the statement.

Review length up around 10% since low at end of March

In terms of review submissions, ratings have been stable. This is no real surprise because the products themselves have not changed in the short period we are analyzing.

In our last snapshot, we reported that review length had seemingly cratered after stay at home orders came into effect. In April, this rebounded and increased around 10%. But you should keep this in perspective: the average review length is 154 characters. A decrease of 10-20% therefore isn’t particularly meaningful in terms of impact on consumer behavior.

Regardless of what’s driving this trend, we’re hearing a lot about review length these days from our customers. It’s proven that longer reviews generate more sales. Our product team is actively working on some cool features to encourage customers to write longer reviews. More on that within the next month.

Review content has doubled in importance in driving purchases during pandemic

Now let’s look at review engagement among purchasers (we define review engagement as someone clicking on a filter, sorting, clicking a key word etc.). These numbers are staggering as well. Among consumers who purchase, engagement has doubled – peaking at 105% right at the turn of the month. 

Keep in mind that this is review engagement as a percentage of purchasers. Purchasers are up 210% the last two months. This is important when considering the dip that occured around April 10. Remember, it was around this time when purchases shot up to that peak of 200%+. So this still represents a hugely meaningful level of interaction with review content.

This really reinforces just how important this review content is when it comes to driving purchasing decisions. Even with shoppers behaving more decisively online than we’ve ever seen before, they are still relying on product reviews to inform their decision making.

Spotlight: Health and Beauty

Why did we focus on health and beauty? Well, we saw some pretty marked trends among these brands when crunching the data. When we dug a little deeper into specific product categories, we found some super interesting storylines – particularly revealing and indicative of different consumer buying patterns in this period.

Pandemic has huge impact on health and beauty consumer shopping levels

Above, we talk about a vast surge in overall sales volumes of 210%. This is merely amplified in health and beauty, where order volumes peaked up 450% in April. Traffic, too, increased significantly across these brands and doubled compared to February. Again, consumer decisiveness is clearly in evidence with a far higher proportion of visits converting to purchase than we would typically expect.

Extreme and fluctuating demand for specific products

Let’s look a little deeper at different types of health and beauty product groups. Here, we specifically focus on three: Bath and shower (light green), hair color (dark green) and makeup (in gold). The thick gray line highlights the health and beauty vertical average.

Although clearly not the only product categories in this industry, they all tell a very distinct story that’s indicative of broader consumer trends. Buying behaviors clearly vary depending on product, with peaks and troughs at various times. Now we’ll look at each in detail.

Bath & Shower product demand peaks in Mid-March after staggering 2200% increase

The bath and shower product category includes hand soap so this accounts for this insane jump in sales volumes in mid-March (2200%+). This is a clear story of stocking up. Back in early/mid-March, CDC guidance urged the population to wash hands for 20 seconds or more multiple times per day. So, in this context, perhaps this is unsurprising to some extent. But the number is still mind-boggling.

After that, orders level off as the population settles into those “stay at home” orders. A somewhat more consistent increase of around 300-500% in orders. Still very high, but a little more steady. 

And similar to every other trend highlighted above, jumps in page visits are not nearly as meaningful as the order volumes. Certainly, there are increases (600% in mid-March) but these are dwarfed by purchase increases. 

Although these numbers come down, you should remember you’re looking at a scale going up to 2000% here. However, increases in traffic throughout April can likely be attributed to increased browsing once preferred products sold out or were subject to delivery delays.

Demand for hair color products grew to astonishing levels

While increases in demand for hair color products never quite reach the same level of intensity as bath and shower, order volumes remained consistently high throughout April. But the jump from early March is what’s interesting. Overall, it’s an increase of way over 1000% (or 11x) over the course of about 20 days.

So, what’s going on here? Here are a few suggestions:

  • People thinking they could ride it out for a couple weeks and would get back into the salon sooner than expected
  • Strong loyalty to salon colorists and/or hesitancy to try DIY products
  • After a couple of weeks, this went out the window and panic set in – hence the surge.

Again, as we’ve seen with pretty much every category so far, the increase in page visits simply does not keep pace with the increase in order volumes.

Makeup spikes later and increase not as pronounced as other health and beauty products

Makeup is the last product category we explore. Interestingly, there is a minor spike caused by some normal stocking up in late March. And then there’s a second wave as presumably people begin to run low. These increases are still significant but just nowhere near as vast as trends we see for other product categories.

Review submission volumes rise significantly in bath and shower and hair color

But what about consumer review content? Is this important in the health and beauty vertical?

This chart explores review submission levels across these three same product categories (we don’t ask for reviews until a week or two after the order was placed, which explains the lag).

For the two product categories with those huge surges, review submissions are also trending way up (100-200% in late April for both bath and shower and hair color). For makeup products, review levels actually fell compared to before the pandemic.

Most likely, consumers are focused on assessing products that have the biggest immediate emotional impact. Given how all-consuming the coronavirus has been on everyone’s way of life, it seems that mental toll has affected how they approach providing review content.

Huge review engagement in health and beauty

As explained, the above highlights the percentage of interactions with reviews (i.e. filters, sorting, etc.) for purchasers. We already know health and beauty product order volumes are way up. But the percentage of these purchases that involve a review interaction has also jumped massively.

The peak hits in late March at 313% above the end of February. This is on top of a giant 300% increase in orders during this period. When it comes to health and beauty, review content is simply critical to shoppers’ decision-making. The engagement levels remain super high, well over 100% throughout the rest of April (this was when the industry-wide order volumes shot up 450%).

This makes a lot of sense: the in-store health and beauty product experience tends to be extremely tactile. Shoppers can typically touch, smell or test prior to buying. In lieu of that capability, consumers are relying on the experience of other customers to inform their online purchases.

What does all this mean?

The numbers are pretty clear both across the board, and especially within health and beauty:

  1. Order volumes are up, 
  2. Review submissions are up
  3. Review engagement is up

As a ratings and reviews company, we are particularly interested in the fact that customer-generated content has become even more important during the Covid-19 era.

Given this combined with increased order volumes, brands and retailers have an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that their shoppers are more informed than ever.

How? By leaning into existing market trends to generate better quality reviews in higher volumes. While we can’t go into huge detail here (check out this blog post for more), here are three quick cost-effective tips:

  1. 80% of reviews originate from a review solicitation email. So think really carefully about what goes into that messaging. As a best practice, don’t dilute your request. Instead, use standalone emails that only ask for reviews
  2. Send at least two emails. Consumers have enough on their minds, don’t expect them to read every email you send them. Check out this blog for some tips on how to ask for more review content.

Consider incentivizing customers either with loyalty points or a sweepstakes entries. Just be sure that if you do incentivize, you badge the reviews accordingly to ensure maximum transparency.

Your Questions Answered: Webinar Q&A

During the webinar, we got asked a handful of questions from our live audience. We answer those here:

Are these all written reviews— or video submissions as well?

Our analysis is based completely on written reviews. That is our speciality. However, we are huge proponents in the power of imagery to tell a story. We know for a fact that review content with customer-generated photographs drives more conversions. We go into detail on how to solicit more customer imagery in our blog on the topic.

Did you see any interesting trends in nutrition (i.e. within the health category)?

In the webinar, we focused on products that we thought highlighted the biggest impact of current market trends. We did not see as big an impact for nutrition products.

Do you have any predictions for future months?

Honestly, no. We have been surprised at the figures. We could’ve predicted the increases, but the extent has been beyond anything we would’ve predicted. We are happy that we will be able to continue to tell you what we’re seeing on a month-by-month basis. Check back at PowerReviews.com/insights on the first of every month for our latest report.

How do you help brands and retailers generate more effective reviews in higher volumes in these times?

Mainly through advising and consulting them. We obviously have a lot of experience in this area so feel we offer valuable perspective and expertise. As we mention, with so much focus on ecommerce, this is a great opportunity to create a bigger and more impactful review footprint.

There are many things that brands and retailers can be doing that don’t cost anything and we talk about some of these above. We also provide some links to further information there too. In addition, we have extensive sampling services.

How do you feel consumer behavior will change post pandemic and what impact will this have on customer-generated content?

All the data indicates that the pandemic has massively accelerated the transition online. We talked a lot in the webinar and above about how some of the data was indicative of consumers who typically shop offline engaging with ecommerce for the first time. The smart money is on at least some of this sticking. The store will never die. It might need to reinvent itself but there are certain things the online experience will just never be able to imitate.

But increasingly, and particularly for specific low consideration product items, consumers are appreciating the convenience and ease of online shopping. Once they’ve got a taste, they might never go back.

In terms of impact on Customer-Generated Content, our data would indicate more shoppers = more review submissions and more interactions with those reviews. So, essentially, we see ratings and reviews content growing in importance. It’s difficult to see how this trend would not play out given everything we see above.

Carol Krakowski

As Director of Insights, Carol Krakowski partners with the Customer Success and Analytics teams at PowerReviews to maximize client value using PowerReviews data. With a passion for telling stories with data, she has more than eight years of experience analyzing ecommerce companies and datasets to power insights for internal and external audiences.

Webinar Speakers

Andrew Smith, Director of Product Marketing at PowerReviews

Andrew is an experienced ecommerce technology marketer. Passionate about all things internet shopping, he is excited to share the latest PowerReviews consumer trend data with the ecommerce community.


Carol Krakowski headshot

Carol Krakowski, Director of Insights at PowerReviews

Carol Krakowski partners with the Customer Success and Analytics teams at PowerReviews to maximize client value using PowerReviews data. With a passion for telling stories with data, she has more than eight years of experience analyzing ecommerce companies and datasets to power insights for internal and external audiences.

May 7, 2020 CHICAGO, ILLINOIS— Mizuno USA today reveals how it has, since 2016, been leveraging PowerReviews’ ratings & reviews and analytics capabilities to drive increased sales and product improvements.

Mizuno USA, a leading sporting goods company has been able to reach new audiences by increasing review syndication volumes by 89% and optimize product launches, while analyzing customer review feedback to drive key service and product improvements and streamline communications between consumer and brand. 

Whitney Conner, Director of Customer Support at Mizuno USA, comments:

“Reviews are critical for our product launches. Whether a product is in its early stages or in need of enhanced visibility in the market, PowerReviews’ collection capabilities ensure that the reviews are always available, ready for consumers who are looking for product feedback.”

“The ability to syndicate reviews across a wide range of retailers helps us reach more customers than ever. This is vital to increasing consumer confidence in their buyer journey.”

“The PowerReviews team is always proactive in helping us explore new ways to reach and connect with customers. With their ease of use, fantastic support and valuable insights, PowerReviews has been critical in improving how we provide customers with the information they need to guide them to purchase.“

Saarah Shaikh, Senior Director of Customer Success at PowerReviews, said:

“With PowerReviews’ unique syndication capabilities, clients that share customer-generated content through our platform generate an average 52% increase in product coverage across retailer sites compared to our competitors. So quality brands like Mizuno experience tons of value by getting their customer content in front of buyers, no matter where they shop.”

This information is taken from a newly-published case study, which can be accessed on the PowerReviews website here.

 

ABOUT POWERREVIEWS

PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) is a software and data company that works with 1000+ leading brands and retailers to bring authenticity and transparency to commerce.  The PowerReviews Customer Content Platform has three solutions that help our customers collect and manage customer-generated content to improve the product and customer experience across the customer journey. We help clients meet the evolving need for social proof, accelerating the path to purchase and brand advocacy.

PowerReviews is known for innovation, consultative partnership, and actionable insights, supported by our open platform and approach. Our dedicated team of experts provides thoughtful analysis and turn-key service. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

ABOUT MIZUNO USA

Mizuno USA (mizunousa.com), a global sporting goods company, offers high- performance equipment, apparel and footwear for a wide range of sports, including golf, baseball, running and more. With hundreds of products aimed toward a diverse audience of sporting enthusiasts, it’s important for Mizuno to provide new and existing customers with the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision. 

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