With uncertainty sweeping the nation following the Brexit vote, consumers are at their most vulnerable and as a result, acting cautiously. The plunge of the pound means UK shoppers have been reluctant to hit the high street in this period of unpredictability.
As a result of this flat-lining shopping rate, retailers need to take action, and fast. Rebuilding consumer confidence that has clearly taken a beating requires businesses to focus on trust-boosting measures in order to inject a bit of spending spirit among their most valued and prospective customers.
Once enticed, keeping hold of a shopper becomes increasingly tricky, with loyal custom becoming a thing of the past and retailers starting to battle on price point alone. This race to the bottom is not feasible for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and only stokes the fire for the retail giants.
To stay in the race, frontrunners will remember that for top-shelf service, customers are willing to pay a premium. Encouraging this can come from a number of avenues, but a first port of call is applying trust-building measures.
With a host of scam sites and dodgy deals being reported in the press, consumers need to trust that retailers can deliver on all their promises. Having a stamp of approval from a third party that validates the online store can be a positive first step to offer consumers the reassurance they need. When shoppers have a safety net in case things go wrong, they are much more inclined to spend. This includes offers like money-back guarantees that indicate that retailers are genuinely thinking of the customer experience when considering the business model, they follow.
Cue the customer review
Inspiring trust comes through great service, yet for those prospective customers who are wary of what you have to offer, social proof is imperative.
In the online world, where the behaviour of other people is not directly visible, we rely on other indicators – most commonly, customer reviews. In fact, 88 per cent of customers say that online reviews influenced their buying decisions (Dimensional Research, 2013).
Whether a fledgling retailer or a well-known brand, being able to validate your products and services is essential to instill loyalty. Getting shoppers to part with their cash has to be based on something other than the latest deal. As a result, customer reviews are a great reassurance tactic that can close the gap between a sale and an abandoned basket.
Customer reviews encourage consumers that what they are buying has the backing of their fellow shoppers – something we crave before parting with our hard earned cash. They also allay consumer concerns surrounding the unknown for brands that are less well known.
Sharing is caring
Retailers who encourage feedback open the floodgates to an invaluable source of information that allows them to benchmark their performance and improve services.
Filtering out the fakes
It is important to remember that only genuine reviews generate trust and that user-generated content is only a valuable asset when managed correctly. Retailers need to make sure that only genuine feedback makes it onto their site. This means being savvy about the indicators of false feedback and educating customers on the importance of sharing their views after making a purchase.
Inevitably, negative comments will crop up now and then but these should not be disregarded or deleted. If retailers take the time to analyse them where the criticism is justified and improve their operations, it is actually an opportunity to show consumers that the brand is listening and how important their feedback is in improving customer service.
Review scanners can be used to detect abnormalities in feedback which can be flagged to review moderators as suspicious, and manually approved before publishing. While this does not mean the system filters out negative feedback, it does mean the brand can respond quickly and effectively to their consumers and review their performance accordingly and at the same time more quickly identify any fake reviews.
Keep your customers close
In today’s retail landscape, new customers are few and far between which is why many retailers are forced to focus on creating brand evangelists and fostering a culture of loyalty to target existing customers to keep them close. Sadly, for retailers, loyalty comes with time, immediate trust that converts into sales doesn’t happen overnight; working on building and nurturing a network of customers that learn to trust you over time is essential.
By Scott Cretton, Key Account Manager, Trusted Shops