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Trends and value of customer reviews in the retail industry

In today’s online retail environment, the number of consumers who rely on customer reviews to make buying decisions continues to increase.

Receiving and promoting online customer reviews can enormously impact your retail business: not only encourage sales, but reviews also shape your reputation as a seller and help build loyalty with your customer base.

Advantages of online reviews for retailers

93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, and 85% trust them as much as they trust a personal recommendation.

This is because customer reviews are widely regarded as being the most trustworthy thing consumers can read about any brand, especially in a time when consumers are savvy and naturally distrustful of ad campaigns.

Online reviews are an important part of the journey a person takes to become a customer, and it goes without saying that positive reviews will clearly benefit your business the most. It doesn’t hurt, too, that reviews are often search-friendly and can help you appear towards the top of the search engine.

On the other hand, driving positive reviews doesn’t happen automatically. Consumers are more likely to share their negative experiences than their positive ones, so don’t assume everyone who was satisfied with their experience will take to the internet to share their positive opinion.

If you don’t work actively to encourage customers to leave reviews – as well as to identify and remedy bad reviews –  you will end up hurting your bottom line.

How is the Retail Industry Performing Overall?

Despite the enormous impact of online customer reviews on the retail industry, retail reputation scores are surprisingly low, according to a study conducted by Reputation.com on over 70 industries.

Measured on a scale of 0 to 1,000, the Reputation Score is a comprehensive index of the digital presence of a business’ location.

It is calculated based on nine factors that reflect and impact consumers’ experiences and opinions, online and on-site.

The factors taken into considerations are:

  • Star Average
  • Review Volume
  • Review Recency
  • Review Length
  • Review Spread
  • Review Response
  • Search Impression
  • Listings Accuracy
  • Social Engagement

Compared to the industries Reputation.com has studied, the Retail Industry is on the lower end.
Why?

A potential reason for a lower than average Reputation Score is a lack of processes for responding to reviews. In striking contrast with companies in other industries, retailers tend to not respond to negative feedback. Retailers in the study respond to just 2% of negative reviews, on average, compared with 70% for Real Estate companies, 69% for Auto Dealers and 66% for Dining establishments. Additionally, Retailers have a low average monthly volume of reviews which the research shows directly impacts Google search rankings.

Bad reviews are good, too – if you know how to respond!

It is inevitable that you will encounter negative reviews, but this doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

Constructive criticism can actually help your business to grow, especially if there are recurring themes within the online reviews. Moreover, bad reviews give credibility to good reviews, as long as the negative ones are proportionate to the great ones. It’s impossible to please everyone all of the time.

It’s important, though, that you respond in a proper way. Always apologize for their experience and ask them to contact a specific email or phone number to resolve it privately. This will show other customers that you’re invested in their happiness and will do what it takes to resolve their concerns. It will also move the discussion to a private sphere, without further damaging your public reputation.

Time to take action

When you want to sell more and increase the trust customers have in your retail business, online reviews are crucial. Since they can also have benefits of increased search visibility, you can’t afford to not prioritize them.

Monitor, analyze and respond to your reviews is crucial to driving more foot traffic to your store.

However, dealing with online reviews from all different platforms can be overwhelming. For this reason, you may want to invest in the right technology to make sure you take advantage of their full potential.

Want to learn more about how to online reviews can bring more sales and success to your business?