What do you do before making a purchase? If you are like 58% of Americans, you perform online research concerning the products and services that you considering purchasing.
User Generated Knowledge Influences Purchases
According to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, not only are more adults researching online before they buy, 24% of American adults say they have posted comments or reviews online about the product or services they buy. By showing such initiative, online users are also showing that engaging with others and sharing their opinions about products is an important part of the buying experience.
Regardless of where the buy, online or in store, prospective customers start their fact-finding and decision-making online. Just as consumers have always consulted printed buying guides and consumer reports before committing to a purchase, the web now affords users the opportunity to talk to average consumers about their experiences. Whether it’s via social networking sites or on Amazon, product reviews are an easy, accessible way to share knowledge.
How Retailers Can Reap the Rewards on Online Reviews
For retailers, knowing that more and more users are consulting online reviews to learn about products, Kampyle, a provider of feedback analytics to websites and companies, has published a list of best practices for online retailers to capture consumer attention, especially during the approaching holiday shopping season.
Kampyle highlights five critical areas for online businesses to focus their efforts on, including:
- Start Early — Savvy shoppers begin comparing prices, products and customer services early. Retailers should ensure that all product offers and supporting information such as customer reviews, images and content are updated and compelling.
- Promote User Reviews — Companies should engage with website visitors by offering access to websites, products and services and the customer service. Companies can help build brand loyalty through customer reviews and online surveys which can give businesses opportunities to engage directly with visitors.
- Act Fast — Companies need to respond quickly and effectively to customer feedback. A delayed response to customer feedback can be damaging, especially when you consider how quickly information can spread via Twitter and Facebook. Companies may consider adding live chat functionality to their website in order to respond to questions in real time.
- Differentiate Yourself — Companies can stand out by offering free shipping or flat-rate pricing for shipping during the holiday season. In order to compete with sites that offer free shipping or low prices year round, online retailers can align themselves, even if only for a short time, to help make their offerings more attractive to consumers looking for the best deals.
- Join the Online Conversation — If you’re not already, this is the time to start engaging with customers via social media. In addition, companies are encouraged to track their brand to understand what is being said. Additionally, companies can provide promotional offers that are exclusive to online followers and fans, which can help track reach and influence.
But online retailers should just focus on online reviews or responding to customer feedback during the holiday season. In order to be effective and reliable, companies needs to have an online presence throughout the year.