It’s no secret that Amazon has become a destination for consumers searching for a wide variety of products, from books and movies to electronics and toys. In fact, according to a recent PowerReviews report, 38% of online shoppers begin their shopping journey on Amazon, with 79% citing a wide variety of products as a reason they start there.
Now Amazon is making its mark on the apparel sector — in a big way. In addition to featuring online “boutiques” for established, popular apparel brands such as Kate Spade, BCBG, Hugo Boss, and 7 For All Mankind, Amazon has recently launched seven of its own clothing brands for men, women, and children. And the company has no plans to slow down. According to a report from Morgan Stanley, Amazon currently has 7% market share of the apparel industry, but by 2020, that number will climb to 19%. To provide a little more context, Cowen & Co. predicts Amazon will displace Macy’s as the top U.S. apparel retailer by next year.
It’s clear that apparel retailers are taking note of Amazon’s growth in apparel — as they should be. Art Peck, CEO at Gap, Inc. said at the company’s last shareholder meeting, “To not be considering Amazon and others would be in my view delusional.”
But what can apparel retailers do to effectively compete with the eCommerce giant?
It’s no Longer an Option to Compete on Pricing and Product Availability
In addition to a wide selection of products, our recent report on the path to purchase found that pricing considerations, such as free shipping, are another top reason consumers choose to start the purchase journey on Amazon. However, it’s difficult for the majority of retailers to compete against Amazon when it comes to inventory, price, and shipping.
But the good news is, there’s a big opportunity for apparel retailers to leverage user-generated content including ratings and reviews and Q&A to offer a superior shopping experience that wins consumers and cultivates brand advocates. Read on to learn how reviews can help apparel retailers grow sales and effectively compete with Amazon.
Reviews Attract Visitors
A search engine is the second most popular place to begin the online shopping journey, with 35% of shoppers starting their product search there. And with 71% market share, “search” means “Google” for the majority of shoppers.
What’s encouraging for retailers is that after conducting a search on Google or another search engine, shoppers are just as likely to click through to a retailer site as they are Amazon (41% each).
Retailers can effectively compete with Amazon to attract these “search-first” consumers by leveraging ratings and reviews. Ratings and reviews improve a retailer’s visibility in search engine results and improve clickthrough rates with rich snippets that display star ratings and review information in search results.
Reviews Keep Visitors On Your Site to Convert
Some of the top reasons shoppers choose to start the purchase journey on a brand or retailer site is because it’s easier to find what they’re looking for and they can find the best product information there. After you’ve successfully attracted shoppers to your site, make sure to keep them there by providing all of the information they need to make an informed purchase decision, including the opportunity to hear from other consumers through ratings and reviews.
And remember — visual review content is especially important for apparel shoppers, who want to better understand the size and fit of a particular piece of clothing on someone with a body type like them before making a purchase.
If you don’t provide a high volume of valuable reviews, you risk losing shoppers to a site that will. Shoppers we surveyed said they’ll turn to a search engine (45%), Amazon (25%), or another brand or retailer site (20%) if they can’t find any — or enough reviews on a brand or retailer site.
Reviews Cultivate Loyalty
Of the 21% of consumers that start the purchase journey on a brand or retailer site, 48% say they do so because they’re past customers, loyal to the brand or retailer.
Consider not only purchases when rewarding customers, but also content. If someone contributes a review, award them points in your loyalty program. Then, when they’ve accrued enough points, award them a coupon for free shipping or a percentage off their next purchase. It’s a small investment to cultivate a loyal customer that will go straight to your site the next time they’re in the market for apparel.