June 5, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Online reviews might seem a world removed from a shopper’s in-store experience. But new research suggests that product reviews play a key role in the path to purchase for shoppers at a physical store.
An April 2019 study from RetailMeNot found that nearly 70% of in-store customers were more likely to look to their smartphones for product reviews, instead of talking with a store associate.1
More than half of shoppers also preferred to use their smartphone to research similar products, or to get specifications about items they were considering purchasing.
An Omnichannel Retail Strategy FTW!
For retailers, these smartphone-centric findings should drive home the importance of omnichannel—the multichannel retail approach that lets shoppers switch between online, mobile and physical experiences seamlessly, based on their needs or personal preferences.
With omnichannel, a shopper might research a product on their phone, receive a coupon, and then make their purchase at a store. Or, they might go to a brick-and-mortar location, view a product in person, then convert on a mobile device.
In a perfect world, omnichannel eliminates friction, makes every touchpoint shoppable, adopts a customer-centric approach, and privileges a superior customer experience above all else.
Smartphones are increasingly a key part of that omnichannel journey, especially among younger demographics. A 2018 study from Salesforce found that 71% of shoppers used their mobile devices at a brick-and-mortar location. That figure was even higher—at 83%—for 18- to 44-year-olds.2
“Mobile browsing and research are standard for most shoppers,” said RetailMeNot CEO Marissa Tarleton in a statement accompanying the research. “A substantial number of consumers are comfortable converting on either that same smartphone device or in a physical store, based on what’s convenient to their needs at the time of their journey.”
How Product Reviews Can Aid Your Omnichannel Efforts
While the idea of omnichannel is simple, a well-executed omnichannel retail strategy is often anything but. RetailMeNot’s research underscores how important online product reviews can be, even when your shoppers are in-store but staring at their smartphones.
Here are a few ways retailers can ensure their Customer-Generated Content strategy also supports their omnichannel efforts:
1. Collect more reviews. Data shows that more reviews result in better conversions; that holds true for shoppers on smartphones as well. A study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found that a product with just five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product with no reviews.3 TurnTo’s innovative features, like reviews that can be submitted directly from the body of an email, have been shown to increase content collection rates by as much as 200%.
2. Optimize displayed content for mobile. It’s not enough to have reviews if they’re difficult to read. Retailers should ensure their websites are optimized for mobile display. TurnTo uses a responsive design approach by default and allows ecommerce sites to configure custom breakpoints to match their site so things like Ratings & Reviews look their best, regardless of what device a shopper is on.
3. Make mobile submissions frictionless. Leaving a product review on your site should be easy, especially if your shoppers are on a mobile device. Smartphone users leave shorter reviews than people on desktops, so ask these shoppers questions that don’t require lengthy answers. TurnTo custom tailors its review collection user experience for shoppers on mobile to get the best answers out of them.
Want to learn more about how TurnTo can help?
1 New RetailMeNot Data Shows Mobile Devices Play a Critical Role for Consumers While Shopping in Physical Retail Stores; RetailMeNot, April 2019
2 Shopper-First Retailing: New Research from 6,000 Consumers and 1.4 Billion Ecommerce Visits Reveals What Shoppers Actually Want; Salesforce, August 2018
3 How Online Reviews Influence Sales; Spiegel Research Center, June 2017