MARCH 27, 2015

Ecommerce has attacked the retail stores big time replicating store experience. There are pros in each account – the comfort at your door step and view of large product varieties in a single screenshot are advantages of ecommerce whereas we cannot get the touch and feel of a product online as in a physical store. At this point, let us take a moment to think how online has built its trust in selling products to our eyes without actually giving the look and feel of the product.

Here come online reviews! Consumers are helping themselves to build credibility over online shopping -- description of the performance, service, quality and feedback on the delivery, seller response etc., these are different perspectives of user experiences. These are quick references to assess a product and obviously consumers trust those reviews of peers for decision making. So ecommerce has surpassed the confidence game of touch and feel of products. In fact reviews have become part and parcel of ecommerce experience. It is the retailers turn to knock the power of reviews.

Takeaways for the online players:

  • Product Flop or not, review is a default hit. Encourage good as well as bad reviews. Painting the goody things is not always a sign of trust. It is misleading at times. Consumers want to see the bad to decide upon what features they can compromise on.
  • The more the better. Encourage more reviews. The top ten reviews could be the most read but there is no way to standardize consumer experiences for a product. The more the reviews, the more the information and the more trust on the product/service.
  • Reviews across channels and platforms. Consumers expect to see reviews in all channels and platforms. Retailers are expected to follow the consumers on the go. You never know where the product has caught the consumer’s attention (social media, ecommerce website, seller site, ads in mobile apps …)
  • Reviews are information as well as agents for expectations. Sometimes reviews not only nose around the wow (or flop) factors, it discusses more on product nitty-gritties and features. Reviews guide the buyer’s awareness and consideration in evaluating a product. This also sets expectations of the product for the consumer.
  • Unique perspectives. Reviews are a feedback for the analysts to know how the product is faring in the market. Consumers are the most reliable critics in business.
  • Timing. Ask for reviews at the right moment. Follow the consumer to find that right time to talk. Ask the customer if a beacon served personalized information or if the customer is happy with the new payment experience. There are specific instances when the consumer is too happy to share his purchase experience and incidents where the consumer badly needs a platform to voice his problems/complaints.
  • Give and take. Consumers and sellers need to complement each other in trading opinions. Consumers should not feel pestered or deviated from the actual buying when asked for reviews. Consumers need to participate and endorse the product and influence others buying decisions. Retailers, at the same time, need to be warm in inviting the users to post their feedback – simple and easy to fill surveys.

    On a further note, reviews are primary market research data. They are powerful real-time inputs to analyze the status of a product in the market place. Retailers can skip the brainstorming and drawing board sessions and directly tweak their strategies for business. And it works because the consumer has asked for it!

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