By Matt Moog
Product reviews deliver important benefits to small retailers—benefits that can help independent retail brands hold their own against large, retail chains. Today’s consumers are ultra-educated and know what information to research before making a purchase, so no matter how small a business, it is essential to equip consumers with that information. The most important type of content independent retailers can offer is feedback from former customers, proving the brand is reliable and offers quality products.
Too often, small retailers overlook the importance of cultivating product reviews. This is a huge missed opportunity, because product reviews have the potential to foster customer loyalty and serve as raw material for business strategies that improve sales and top-line revenue.
There are five direct benefits product reviews can provide to independent retail brands:
1. Establish Credibility
Independent retail brands are often less visible than large chains. Product reviews not only help boost SEO, but also make e-commerce sites appear well rounded. Even more importantly, product reviews establish that critical sense of trust by providing visitors with peer-generated information about the experiences other consumers have had with your products and brand. Establishing this sense of trust and authenticity with your customers then sets the foundation for a relationship and repeat purchases.
2. Attract and Keep Customers on Your Properties
Ratings and reviews drive product-specific traffic to retailer websites from major search engines. Particularly when combined with Google Seller Ratings and Google Product Listing Ads that feature star ratings, ratings and reviews help retailers attract consumers to product pages. Products without reviews are less likely to rank high in search results and therefore attract less organic traffic.
Consumers visiting retail sites expect reviews as part of their purchase decision journey. Ninety-five percent of consumers use reviews and eighty-six percent say they are an essential part of their decision-making process. Most online shoppers reported specifically seek out websites with product reviews. Retailers without reviews risk consumers leaving their website to go to rival websites, where they may not only read reviews, but also complete their purchase.
3. Connect Like-Minded Customers
Independent retailers frequently fall into niche categories and markets where success hinges on the brand’s ability to engage like-minded consumers. Product reviews build trust and loyalty by connecting consumers with people who share their interests, passion and values.
For example, an independent camping goods retailer needs to attract consumers who are passionate about camping. Reviews make it possible for camping fans to interact with each other by reading and responding to content created by other campers. These reviewers will be viewed as experts within the retailer’s community, as 69 percent of consumers believe a source to be reliable and trustworthy if the individual has used the product before. This material can then also provide a wealth of information for new customers on the site who need guidance as to which products to purchase.
Considering niche consumers often possess expertise in the category, reviews are authentic, helpful and informed—improving the quality of the content on the independent retailer’s site, boosting SEO and increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases from both existing and new customers.
4. Capture Material for Marketing Activities
Most independent retailers are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to marketing spending. Product reviews can help compensate for smaller budgets by providing high-quality content that can be used for marketing purposes.
There are many ways product reviews can be repurposed for marketing material. The most successful retail marketers use snippets of consumer reviews and other user-generated content on social media channels, alongside product listings and in advertising campaigns both online and offline.
5. Enhance Quality
Quality issues can make or break independent retailers. Even more than retail chains, independent retailers need to cultivate a reputation around the quality of their products and promote a positive brand reputation that is extended through word-of-mouth marketing.
Product reviews allow independent retailers to gather information about problems or concerns with specific products. If a particular stock item experiences consistent problems resulting in negative customer reviews, independent retailers can quickly identify and fix the problem—preventing damage to the brand’s reputation.
Independent retailers need to include product reviews as part of their business strategy to establish themselves in the retail world. The aforementioned benefits are five of many ways product reviews are able to boost the success of small retailers. User-generated content is helping to transform the retail industry and independent retailers need to ensure they are able to keep up from the get-go. Product ratings and reviews are capable of seamlessly integrating with a retailer’s platforms, making them an easy step towards success.