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Here’s How Smart Brands Are Surviving Retail’s Sea Change

June 19, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

It’s no secret that the retail industry is in the midst of a massive sea change spurred by the rise of eCommerce.

That’s created some new challenges for brands, who can no longer bank on getting adequate shelf space at brick-and-mortar retailer locations to drive sales at the same level as in the pre-internet world.

Consequently, it’s become even more important for brands to make sure they’re getting adequate digital shelf space—for some brands a digital presence is even more important than a physical one.

Smart Brands Are Doubling Down on Ecommerce

The strategy appears to be working for brands that have prioritized their eCommerce efforts, and are now seeing some solid gains as a result.

In May 2019, Internet Retailer reported that 127 of the top 500 North American online retailers were consumer brand manufacturers. This group has seen their web sales increase by an average of 17.9%. That’s a growth rate that outpaces all other merchant groups, with the sole exception of digitally native pure play retailers.1

Internet Retailer cited sneaker icon Nike as one the larger brands that’s seen success with its online efforts—the company reported a 25% spike in ecommerce sales in 2018, for a total of $2.75 billion. Nike also set an ambitious goal for itself, hoping that web sales will reach $20 billion by 2020.

Some brands have improved their direct sales by embracing an omnichannel approach to retail that includes eCommerce, brand-owned physical stores and the store-within-a-store model.

Nike, however, hopes to achieve its goal largely by doubling down on its online footprint. Part of that strategy includes forming stronger relationships with multibrand retailers. In one such initiative, Nike opened a branded storefront on the site of Walmart-owned retail site Jet.com.

How Syndication Can Help Brands Increase Online Sales

One key way that brands—even large ones like Nike—can improve their online sales on retailer sites is through the syndication of online reviews. Syndication is simply the sharing of Customer-Generated Content like ratings and reviews between brands’ online stores and online retailers.

Syndication makes it easier for a shopper to see all of the Customer-Generated Content for the same product, regardless of whether they’re on a brand or retailer site. It’s a highly effective way for brands to connect with more customers.

Not only that, but research shows that products with more reviews sell better. A product with a high number of reviews is a sign that a lot of other shoppers have already bought the item—it’s social proof that can help alleviate customer hesitation about making an online purchase.

Simply gathering more product reviews can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. A study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found that a product with five reviews was 270% more likely to be purchased than a product that didn’t have any reviews.

Brands that syndicate their content also benefit with more exposure on digital channels, improved sell-through value, and search engine optimization (SEO) credit.

TurnTo’s Open Review Syndication Can Help

Unlike other platforms, TurnTo offers its Open Review Syndication service to all brands at absolutely no cost—even if they use a competing platform for their Customer-Generated Content.

TurnTo’s approach also requires no technical work on the part of brands. We scan brand sites for product reviews using a highly accurate web crawler, similar to the way Google’s web indexing search crawler does. These reviews can then be displayed on retailer sites within a day or two.

Brands are also given access to a dashboard that shows which retailer sites in TurnTo’s network are receiving the reviews. And control over syndication always remains in the hands of brands; TurnTo doesn’t require a term commitment for syndication.

To find out how to get started with TurnTo Syndication, get in touch.

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Source:

1 Consumer Brands Make Big Bets on Ecommerce; Internet Retailer, May 2019

 

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Here’s How Product Reviews Can Help Your Omnichannel Strategy

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?

Let’s Talk

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

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Dialing In Your Influencer Strategy—How To Get Beyond the Kardashians

May 8, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Influencer marketing has gotten some negative press lately, with advertisers voicing understandable concerns about issues like attribution and return on investment.

In June 2018, Unilever CMO Keith Weed went so far as to tell a crowd gathered at Cannes that his company would no longer work with influencers who inflated their follower counts by simply buying them.

“We need to take urgent action now to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever,” Weed said in a statement that was picked up by several media outlets.1

When it comes to influencers, Weed’s skeptical gaze is understandable. Unilever’s relationships with influencers who have fake followers has been well documented. For example, analytics company Points North Group estimated that 25% of the followers of influencers working with Unilever brand Dove in 2018 were fake.

The Influencer Paradox

Despite this, the practice of influencer marketing is still drawing significant outlays from advertisers. Points North also estimated that North American marketers spent more than $1 billion on influencers in 2018.2

eMarketer estimates that, worldwide, marketers are allocating about 10% of their budgets to influencers on average, and that marketers plan to continue increasing their spending on the strategy.3

Marketers are stuck in something of an influencer paradox. Influencer agency Mediakix surveyed marketers in January and found that 80% consider influencer marketing to be effective. But 50% also said that spotting fake followers and inauthentic engagement was their chief challenge with influencer marketing, more than any other factor.4

 

Go Micro for a Better Influencer Strategy

Influencer marketing is really just the digital equivalent of an old advertising standby—the celebrity endorsement. In the 90s, Michael Jordan was paid millions for hawking Nikes on TV. Today Kendall Jenner is reportedly pulling in six figures for sponsored posts potentially seen by her roughly 109 million followers.5

But as thinking around influencer marketing evolves, some brands and retailers are moving away from influencers that promise scale. Instead they’re getting replaced by so-called microinfluencers and nanoinfluencers.

These influencers have a fraction of the number of followers that the most famous celebrity influencers have, but often deliver much better levels of engagement.6

Your Shoppers Are Also Influencers

Why are these microinfluencers delivering better results for marketers? One key reason is because they’re seen as authentic sources of information, instead of celebrities looking to make a quick buck.

In that sense, microinfluencers have a lot in common with a resource eCommerce sites might not be taking full advantage of—their own customers.

Like influencer marketing, a Voice of the Customer strategy has proven benefits. Our research shows that 76% of shoppers are less likely to make a purchase from a site that lacks Customer-Generated Content like Ratings & Reviews. And 74% said Customer-Generated Content influenced their decision to shop on one site over another.

When a product is backed by other customers with content like Ratings & Reviews, it gives shoppers the social proof they might need to pull the trigger on a purchase—the same way an influencer endorsement might. Brands and retailers with online stores can benefit from this effect by taking a more expansive view of what an influencer looks like.

How TurnTo Can Help

Instagram’s meteoric growth was due in no small part to its mobile-first approach. Our Visual Reviews product was similarly created with smartphone users in mind, making it simple for them to submit a photo from their device instead of typing out a review.

Those photos can be displayed on your product detail page in a constantly updated gallery row, just like a social media feed. Converse’s site is a great example of how customer created visuals can be showcased on a product page.

TurnTo also partners with services like Curalate, which lets you integrate visually focused social media into product pages right alongside content submitted directly by customers.

In fact, TurnTo’s entire Customer-Generated Content product suite of Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews, and Checkout Comments is designed to help eCommerce sites gather more and better quality content from your customers.

Want to learn more?

Let’s Talk

Sources:

1 Unilever to Crack Down on Influencers Who Buy Fake Followers and Use Bots; Adweek, June 18, 2018

2 Fake Followers Are Hard to Shake, According to New Report; Ad Age, February 6, 2019

3 Global Influencer Marketing 2019; eMarketer, March 5, 2019

4 Influencer Marketing 2019 Industry Benchmarks; Mediakix, January 2019

5 Preview: Kris Jenner as the Force Behind a Family Empire Worth Billions;

6 Are You Ready for the Nanoinfluencers?; New York Times, November 11, 2018

 

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Here’s How eCommerce Sites Can Start Decoding Gen Z

April 11, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Tired of reading clickbait about Millennials’ love of avocado toast? Here’s some good news: GenZ is the next new generation, and over the next few years, people are going to be working hard to figure out this vibrant and dynamic group—the first truly digital native generation.

The boundaries of the US’s youngest generation are still somewhat fuzzy, but the Pew Research Center defines Gen Z as those born in 1997 or later.1

What sets Gen Z apart from its predecessors? For starters, it’s the most racially and ethnically diverse generation the US has ever seen—a group with even greater diversity than Millennials, according to Pew.

Gen Z Has Truly Digital-First Media Habits

It also consumes media in a fundamentally different way than any of its forebears. The oldest Gen Zers were only 10 years old when Apple released the first iPhone; smartphones are likely their default method for heading online.

The Center for Generational Kinetics reports that 95% of Gen Zers had a smartphone in 2018. Their survey also revealed that 61% of Gen Zers spent at least five hours on their smartphone per day, and that more than one-quarter spent a daily average of 10 hours or more with the devices.2

With so much of their time spent on smartphones, legacy media channels like TV hold significantly less sway over them than older generations. That means marketers can have a tough time reaching them at scale through more traditional advertising methods.

Teens and the Power of Recommendations and Reviews

Those media habits could make Gen Z a tough nut for online merchants to crack. But some new research from Social Media Link found that there are still some things that do exert a lot of influence over their purchase decisions: recommendations and reviews.3

According to the company’s survey, nearly all Gen Zers (96%) said they often read recommendations or reviews for products they were thinking about buying.

 

These young shoppers also relied heavily on their personal networks for guidance on purchase decisions. 80% of teens looked to friends and family for recommendations about new products and brands, making it their No. 1 source for those types of endorsements.

 

But online reviews were almost as popular with Gen Zers, with nearly eight in 10 accessing them for insights on potential purchases and brands. In fact, reviews were a bigger influence on their purchase decisions than social media, influencers, and even ads.

Social Media Link also found that these young shoppers aren’t just likely to read product reviews. They’re also highly predisposed to writing them as well. More than 90% of Gen Zers wrote product reviews at least some of the time, and more than a quarter wrote one for every product or service they used.

 

To sum up the research:

  • 96% of Gen Zers often read ratings and reviews about things they’re thinking about buying.
  • Members of the generation tend to look first to friends and family for product recommendations, but online reviews are a close second.
  • Gen Zers are not just reading reviews; more than 9 in 10 also write them for at least some purchases
  • Gen Z spends substantially more time on smartphones than with older media platforms like TV

To Reach Gen Z, Think Mobile-First

Gen Z shoppers, like pretty much all customers, want to see a lot of reviews. TurnTo can help with our Ratings & Reviews product, which generates more Customer-Generated Content than any other.

Just like our entire product suite, Ratings & Reviews is mobile-first and uses responsive design principles to make reviews submitted on a smartphone frictionless. To be clear, we’re not just making things look pretty on mobile devices. We’re changing the way content is collected based on smartphone users’ behavior.

It’s an approach that makes things as easy as possible for Gen Zers on smartphones—who, remember, are already primed to write reviews—to submit more content about their purchases to eCommerce sites.

TurnTo’s Visual Reviews takes this mobile-first approach a step further. Its visual-first collection flow lets shoppers send photos and videos to eCommerce sites with just a few taps. As a result, eCommerce sites get to bank even more content on their product pages, and customers don’t even have to type anything out.

Want to learn more about how TurnTo’s innovative products can help you connect with Gen Z?

Get In Touch

Sources:

1 Defining Generations: Where Millennials End and Generation Z Begins; Pew Research Center, January 2019

2 How Obsessed is Gen Z with Mobile Technology?; The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2018

3 Infographic: 27% of Gen Zers Say They Always Write a Product Review After Making a Purchase; Adweek, April 2018

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Silver Star Brands sees 300% conversion lift from Community Q&A

August 17, 2015 by John Swords

That’s exactly what Ian MacDonald, Director of eCommerce for Silver Star Brands has experienced leveraging TurnTo’s Community Q&A. Ian was looking to improve SEO performance, increase website traffic and lift conversion rates. He thought he’d find an answer using customer-generated content, but he already had ratings and reviews. He needed more.

Ian implemented our Community Q&A and proprietary “Checkout Chatter” products which immediately began creating Customer-Generated Content.

Silver Star Brands’ customers can get quick answers to their questions right on the product detail page from fellow customers, staff experts, and the store’s FAQ content from the help center. To maximize the usefulness of this utility, Ian strategically used an “input teaser” on the product page, enabling shoppers to submit their questions without having to scroll.

Additionally, at the time of purchase, Silver Star Brands’ customers are asked the simple question “Why did you choose this?” TurnTo’s Checkout Chatter enables the company to collect short, positive sentiments from customers, equating to more Customer-Generated Content for their sites that is indexable for search engines.

RESULTS
Here are just a few results Silver Star Brands have realized thus far (a link to the full case study is below):

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As a “bonus” – this incredible volume of Customer-Generated Content from both Q&A and Checkout Chatter is indexed by search engines, which has greatly improved Silver Star Brands’ SEO.

If you’re looking to lift your conversion rates and increase CGC, click here to schedule a demo today. You can read more about Silver Stars Brands’ success in this case study.

InkJetSuperStore wins award for Social Media Marketing

January 16, 2012 by John Swords

Congratulations to InkJetSuperStore for winning the Social Media Marketing category of Retail TouchPoints’ Customer Engagement Awards 2012!

You can read Retail TouchPoint’s article here and download the complete Customer Awards Report from there, but in a nutshell it was through a nomination process, the winners were selected based on, but not limited to, four specific criteria:

  1. Unique shopping/promotional offerings
  2. Customer engagement strategies
  3. Customer analysis
  4. Technology innovation

Using the TurnTo technology, InkJetSuperStore has increased conversion, AOV, and loyalty.  Here are some of the results from the past couple of months.

  • Shoppers who asked questions or read Q&A from others converted at a rate 80% higher than those who didn’t – an especially significant lift since Inkjet Superstore is a replenishment business with a high repeat customer rate and a very high conversion rate.
  • The average order value of shoppers who interacted with TurnTo was 14% higher than the AOV of those who don’t.
  • 16% of all purchasers answered the question “Why did you choose this item?” following check-out (through the TurnTo Purchase Sharing function).

You can see from the complete list of winners below, InkJetSuperStore is sitting in good company:

  • 8ta
  • Casual Male Retail Group (CMRG)
  • David’s Bridal
  • Foot Locker
  • Hot Topic
  • Inkjet Superstore
  • Moosejaw
  • Rutter’s Farm Stores
  • Tasti D-Lite
  • Urban Outfitters

And if winning the award was not exciting enough for InkJetSuperStore and TurnTo, George and I were at the Retail TouchPoints booth @ NRF on Monday as he accepted the award on behalf of ILan Douek, President of InkJetSuperStore, as Ilan was unable to attend.

Here is a pic of me with the Inkjetsuperstore.com award

 

Over here we like to say “When you connect your shoppers to your customers, good things happen!” and apparently that not only means conversion, loyalty and SEO for our customers, but now includes industry recognition…again, congratulations to InkJetSuperStore!

To learn how TurnTo can improve the metrics that mean the most to you and your business, give us a shout @ 908.752.9658 or email sales@turnto.com (yes, a shameless plug from me).