Showrooming, the practice of trying out products in-store and buying them online (usually from a competitor at a cheaper price), is not a new phenomenon. It has been around ever since online stores became competitive in price. But the rapid growth of smartphones has meant customers can now browse for, and price-check, an item while they’re in the store. As a result, showrooming is becoming an increasingly popular tactic with 40 per cent of UK shoppers admitting to being ‘showroomers’ .
But the devices in people’s pockets are not a barrier to sales; they’re a window. While price is of course important, particularly when bargain hunting in the post-festive sales, it is not the only factor in the purchasing decision process. Seventy per cent of UK consumers say that they read reviews before making a purchase decision . Leveraging this content to merge the online and offline worlds is therefore a powerful tool for retailers and brands to create ambassadors out of their existing customers, increase in-store conversion and minimise loss to competitors.
Here are some key tips for leveraging ratings and reviews content to reel in the showroomers:
User Generated Content (UGC) in ratings and reviews is an easy way to start gathering the data needed to create better experiences and stop price being the only differentiator, especially if you can react in real-time.
During the January sales, shoppers are hunting for bargains. This can be a time consuming and frustrating business so anything that can help them quickly find what they’re looking for is welcome. Introducing a simple value rating system in the reviews process can help to gather information to feed into a ‘best value’ landing page on the mobile site which can be split into categories such as womenswear and home etc. By keeping this updated in real time, it can help shoppers save time and even drive them to completely new products in your store – keeping them off competitor sites!
Ratings and reviews are not just an opportunity for consumers to give their feedback. They allow retailers to communicate with their customers, create a positive brand image and even increase conversion rates.
A Bazaarvoice study with Wakefield Research found that shopper intent to purchase more than doubles if they see a brand respond to a review. Furthermore, responses from brands that correct misuse of a product can triple intent to purchase. Also, seeing a brand step in online and respond to a review – either negative or positive – makes 41 per cent of consumers think the brand cares about consumers, 35 per cent think it has great customer service, and 22 per cent see the brand as trustworthy.
Fifty per cent of respondents in the UK believe that one or more of the reviews they read online are fake and more than half think companies remove negative reviews. It is important that retailers and brands address both of these areas to be seen as authentic.
While technology goes so far to ease concerns, fewer than 15 per cent feel that technology alone is a sufficient filter. Robust authenticity strategies also need to include human analysis. Forming partnerships with a credible third party for moderating UGC adds another level reassurance for consumers – more than 80 per cent of respondents in the UK say they feel more trusting of reviews if they know they are screened for fraud, moderated, and displayed by a neutral, credible third party.
Jim Bassett, multi-channel operations manager at Argos, says that customers who read reviews show a 50 per cent higher conversion rate than those who don’t. Reviewers are therefore a powerful tool. A post-holiday thank you campaign offering a voucher, free gift or money off to reviewers can drive repeat purchases and additional UGC to influence showroomers on an ongoing basis. Retailers should ensure this campaign is inclusive of all reviewers, regardless of sentiment, to avoid raising questions over authenticity.
Although the convergence of online and offline worlds through mobile does inevitably gives customers the opportunity to buy products elsewhere, it also gives retailers the opportunity to use their full range of assets to give them a compelling reason not to. Using insight collected across the channels to give each customer the experience they want will ultimately help retailers to retain their customers and minimise loss through showrooming. Not only that, it also provides the opportunity to put your most convincing ambassadors, existing customers, at the point of purchase.