It’s no secret that the majority of consumers today turn to ratings and reviews to help them make informed purchase decisions. PowerReviews research found that 95% of shoppers consult reviews, and 86% consider them an essential resource when making purchase decisions.
Reviews are important for a variety of different product categories. But they’re becoming increasingly important for apparel brands and retailers. Today, according to Forrester Research, only 15% of apparel is purchased online. But this number will only continue to grow as more and more consumers crave the convenience of browsing and shopping for just about anything online. Plus, the growth of online apparel sales will likely accelerate now that Amazon is ramping up its apparel offerings. In fact, some predict that Amazon will become the #1 apparel retailer by 2017.
Now’s the time for apparel brands and retailers to adopt ratings and reviews in order to appeal to the increasing number of consumers shopping online — and to avoid losing market share to Amazon. Read on to learn more about the benefits of ratings and reviews for apparel brands and retailers.
There are some product categories that consumers don’t think twice about purchasing online. But apparel is a highly personal purchase. Many factors are considered when making a clothing or shoe purchase decision, including size and fit, style, and quality. And it’s more challenging for shoppers to access these qualities when shopping online. For example, a shopper knows she generally wears a size medium in blouses. But how can she know how a particular blouse will fit on her body type? Or whether the blouse will hold up well after numerous washings?
That’s where reviews come into play. The feedback from past customers can help give your future shoppers the confidence they need to convert. For example, in my previous example, the woman shopping for a new blouse can look at reviews to hear what other shoppers like her say about the size and fit of the blouse and how it holds up in a washing machine. As an added bonus, if you allow visual content in reviews, that consumer can find a photo of another shopper with a body type like hers to get a better idea of how the top fits. With this information in mind, she can confidently make a purchase.
And remember — apparel shoppers aren’t only using reviews when they’re shopping online. PowerReviews research found that 70% of shoppers want to access product ratings and reviews while shopping in-store. By making reviews accessible wherever consumers shop, you’ll also boost in-store conversion.
One of the biggest challenges apparel companies face is the large volume of returns. 17% of returns are made because the item didn’t fit properly and 30% are made because the product wasn’t what the shopper expected.
You’ll never be able to completely eliminate returns, but one of the most effective ways for apparel companies to reduce return rates is to make sure shoppers know exactly what to expect from a product. Your product descriptions and photos play their part, but consumers can get great insights from the reviews of past customers. For example, let’s say a customer is looking for a new pair of sandals in a size 11. He looks at the reviews and notices that many of customers mention that a particular style runs about a size large. He loves the style of the shoes, so he orders them in a size 10. He loves the shoes, and the brand avoids an unnecessary return.
Improve Products and the Customer Experience
An often overlooked benefit of ratings and reviews is that they provide brands and retailers with a wealth of insights about how to improve products and the customer experience. By using insights gleaned from reviews to improve your products and the customer experience, you’re also improving your bottom line.
For example, Soft Surroundings, a leading women’s clothing and bedding retailer, makes and designs all of their apparel in-house, and they use the feedback from reviews to improve their products. “When we get feedback, it goes directly to our technical team,” said Gail Buffington, eCommerce Manager. “The quicker we get feedback, the quicker we can resolve issues.”
Ratings and reviews have many benefits for apparel brands and retailers. By adding reviews to your apparel site, you’re providing shoppers with the information they’re looking for — and helping improve your bottom line.