Technology has brought shoppers together. They are now sharing product details, photos, reviews, sales, coupons, and tips with each other. It all gets exchanged through social media, blogs, and sites. Thanks to this wide digital community, customers now walk into stores with expectations and brand preconceptions. The power of retail has shifted to the customer.
88% of people consult online reviews before shopping at a business, and 90% say that their purchase decisions are influenced by reviews
Fortunately, retailers can embrace and leverage the customer’s voice to enhance brand awareness, understand shopper behaviors, build meaningful connections, increase traffic to stores, and gain loyalty.
What’s a picture worth?
A shopper in the dressing room is snapping pictures of some outfits she’s trying on, and instantly sharing these photos across her social networks. She’s not only getting feedback about which outfits look best on her, but she’s also exposing potential customers to an authentic account of the brand and its products. Everyone can now see what these outfits look like on a real person rather than on a rack or a carefully-selected professional model.
Customer photo sharing can be one of the best tools in spreading brand awareness. In 2015, Instagram reached 400 million users from around the world. Every day more than 80 million photos are shared and 3.5 billion likes are given on Instagram.
Urging customers to share photos of their retail experience creates the opportunity to tap into a considerably wide customer audience, as well as add value to the brand. When a customer shares personal images and videos of them interacting with a brand, they offer a unique, personal and compelling perspective that could increase store traffic and influence future purchases.
You talk. We listen.
According to a 2014 survey conducted by Brightlocal.com, 88% of people consult online reviews before shopping at a business, and 90% say that their purchase decisions are influenced by reviews. Customer reviews, therefore, can be a good way to entice shoppers and build trust.
Reviews also hold important customer data. Through reviews, retailers can gain insight into retail experience, right down to individual store issues. They also help retailers better understand customer thoughts, behaviors and patterns, allowing retailers to improve and evolve.
What’s more, encouraging and responding to customer reviews (good and bad) shows customers that a retailer values shoppers’ opinions and cares about the customer experience.
When all is said and done…
With the rapid growth of technology and the democratization of retail, customers now have high expectations. Retailers recognize this and are constantly attempting to grab shoppers’ attention and win customer loyalty.
Today’s shoppers are inundated with marketing messages, so one way to create a genuine connection is through customer-generated content like photos and reviews. Empowered shoppers will continue to contribute and shape brand perception without regard to retailers, so why not embrace this love for social sharing? Retailers that protest customer exchange and reject the democratization phenomenon will consequently fall behind, while those that leverage customer contributions will essentially strengthen the customer relationship and add credibility to the brand.