Today’s consumers want all the information they can get about a product before making a purchase. One of the best sources of information is user-generated content. Having complete and transparent information helps retailers establish trust with shoppers. Amazon is the pioneer in this practice and wrote the book on how thorough and complete product descriptions, ratings and reviews, plus user submitted photos help meet and exceed expectations.
When researching a product, 25% of shoppers who can’t find reviews and leave a retailer site will head to Amazon. Shoppers ranked the most important factor for driving trust in an individual review:
- Review by verified buyer
- Detail of the review
- User-submitted images or video
- The reviewer is like me
- Number of reviews by reviewer
Shoppers want to know that the review is authentic and complete, but they are less interested in the review writer. Interestingly enough, consumers don’t want perfect products. In fact, 82% of consumers specifically seek out negative reviews and are leery of flawless products. The ideal star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars.
Product descriptions, visual content key
Complete and accurate product descriptions are just as important as reviews. Unlike shopping in stores, online consumers don’t get to touch the product so understanding exactly what it is or does is essential.
PowerReviews’ research found that shoppers’ top irritation when researching products online ranked as follows:
- 43% – Poor product description
- 20% – Lack of photos or videos
- 18% – No product reviews
- 7% – Not enough product reviews
- 3% – No user submitted content like photos and videos
Table stakes: shipping & returns
While user-generated content is essential for meeting and exceeding shopper expectations, Amazon now takes it a step further with perks. Free and fast shipping, as well as their “Prime” loyalty program, ensures that consumers consider Amazon as their go-to site. Unlike a typical loyalty program offering discounts, Amazon Prime charges customers a membership fee in return for benefits such as free shipping as well as free music and videos. In return, shoppers are fiercely loyal. Amazon has raised the bar for all retailers and brands who are struggling with how to compete in this new and complex world.
Table Stakes: Our survey confirmed that free shipping and returns are table stakes for e-retailers:
- 84% cited free shipping as a compelling incentive
- 62% were tempted by the offer of free returns
- 29% found reordering ease enticing
Through its Vine program, Amazon is also redefining loyalty by focusing not only on customers who frequently buy products, but also on customers who frequently contribute useful reviews with perks such as free samples.
Differentiators: Shoppers are attracted and retained through the following perks:
- 33% of consumers would like free products
- 29% cited loyalty points
- 27% want early access to sales
- 19% are intrigued by early access to products
Retailers are under no illusion about the competition they face, but they have the tools to compete and win by providing relevant content and by using loyalty programs to increase engagement and conversion.