Consumers Have Questions, Retailers Should Have Answers

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With the release of the Apple Watch and the confluent rise of mobile device use in-store, retailers are beginning to think long and hard about in-store technology. In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of reviews as part of the in-store experience. Ratings and reviews provide authentic, quality content and give consumers confidence when buying, even in-store.

Reviews for the in-store shopper

Recently, Toys R’ Us added ratings and reviews to their baby registry scanners. Consumers use the registry scanner to scan the UPC codes on the products they want to add to their gift registry. When the product is collected by the scanner, the consumer can select to see product reviews both before and after adding the product to the registry list.  When I heard about this addition to the Toys R’ Us shopping experience, I put myself in the shoes of those moms and dads-to-be who are making a baby registry for the first time and have little knowledge when it comes to baby products. Ratings and reviews, especially in this instance, provide additional insight into the products and makes the process easier and less stressful. If I were in this position, however, I’d likely have a ton of specific questions about the products. This made me think, Q&A would be a great supplement to ratings and reviews during the in-store experience.

While a baby registry made me think of this relationship, Q&A capabilities can further enhance the shopping experience and complement in-store ratings and reviews for any retailer. Q&A gives curious shoppers an opportunity to ask specific questions that might not have been discussed in the reviews.

With this in mind, here are 4 reasons Questions and Answers should supplement Ratings and Reviews in-store:

1.) Your consumers are already engaged if they are asking a question.

Consumers who have specific questions about a product are already interested in buying, especially if they are in-store.   In fact, Skechers’ eCommerce Merchandising Manager said: “Because those who submit questions are already engaged, if we can give them the answers they want in a timely fashion, they usually buy the shoe.” Once consumers receive an answer to their question, they’re ready to buy.

While consulting ratings and reviews is on the top of consumers’ to-do list–even while in-store– potential buyers still end up having a few questions they would like answered before jumping into a purchase.  Q&A capabilities give specific answers to consumers’ specific questions, which may not have been discussed in the reviews and provides buyers with the little boost of confidence they may need to purchase a product.  Answering questions while a potential buyer shops in-store lowers their chances of walking out of the store empty handed or waiting until they go home to buy the product online.

2.) Give your consumers several information sources.
With the addition of an in-store Q&A feature, consumers will have an additional information resource.  On busy weekends or holiday shopping days, sales associates are not always readily available to answer consumers’ questions.  The integration of Q&A gives consumers the ability to ask their questions and receive answers via their mobile device without the hassle of hunting down a store employee who may not even be able to provide the answer.

Using multiple answer sources for Q&A also enables your potential buyers to hear from real Product Owners or Subject Matter Experts within your company.

3.) As you receive questions, a virtual FAQ is created.
One of the biggest caveats to a Q&A functionality for in-store use is answer time.  While an answer in 24 hours is acceptable while shopping online, in-store answers need to be within minutes.  With the use of multiple answer sources like Asking Subject Matter Experts, Product Owners, or using an On-Demand Answer Community, quick turnover on questions asked is entirely possible.

As questions are asked and answered, an FAQ begins to be created on the product page.  With the presence of the FAQ, questions will not be asked twice and consumers will have access to a number of previously asked questions and their answers, providing more useful content during the shopping experience and lessening the burden on your answer sources.

4.) Capture more quality content.
Q&A capabilities will not only further engage your customers in-store, it will also increase your site’s SEO value.  The questions asked and the answers given on your site become permanent assets on the product page, making your site more relevant, useful and fresh–all characteristics Google looks for when ranking page sites.

Q&A provides an additional capability to enhance the shopping experience when coupled with ratings and reviews integration.  Q&A can help retailers cover all bases during the in-store buying experience and ensure that consumers are receiving all of the necessary information prior to a purchase.

Kaitlyn Carpenter

Kaitlyn is the Associate Product Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. She recently graduated from the University of Chicago, where she studied Political Science and Germanic Studies. After years of assigned reading, she is excited to finally choose the books she picks up.