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Three-quarters of consumers rely on online reviews to help them purchase products

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More than three-quarters of UK shoppers (79%) use peer review sources such as Amazon reviews and Trustpilot at least once before making a purchase decision, underlining the continued importance of word of mouth and the opinion of others for most consumers.

This is according to recent research conducted by retail technology expert Conversity, who argues that maintaining consistent, personalised experiences is key in taking full advantage of positive customer feedback.

According to the research, Amazon is the most popular source for customer reviews, with 56% of the respondents stating that they consult it when deciding which products to buy. Google (39%) and Trustpilot (34%) made up the rest of the top three, which gives some indication of the mindset experienced by customers during their purchasing journey.

Sarah Cameron, Director of Customer Experience at Conversity explains: “As online, mobile and social media-enabled shopping continues its upward rise, the importance of peer review and the power it holds over consumers has never been more significant. This means that retailers should be looking even more closely at how to improve their customer experiences. Impersonal ‘product listing’ on digital channels is no longer enough to raise sales and help retailers to stand out from competitors. Instead, companies should humanise their digital presence, which means recognising customer needs and the true significance of their mindset ‘in the moment’.”

Cameron continues: “Ignoring personalisation or failing to provide more than the generic ‘search and filter’ has the potential to quickly lead to an inundation of results, the consequence of which is often disappointed consumers who are more likely to leave negative feedback and reviews for others to read. In today’s world, a couple of negative reviews can have a snowball effect, which can increase the frequency of these unflattering reviews even further.” 

In order to move beyond this purely product-focused approach to a more customer-centric one, it is important to recognise that different people have differing needs at different life stages, so it is crucial to talk to them in a language that matches their motivations.

Cameron adds: “There is a variety of technology solutions available that can help retailers to achieve this, such as intelligent guided selling technology (IGS). This solution allows retailers to interact naturally with customers without being too invasive by prompting visitors on a website with a series of questions relating to their needs and wants. The software is then able to recommend a much more targeted choice that matches their specific requirements. In addition, IGS can integrate all major review site portals into a retailer’s shopping experience, allowing customers to get the unbiased peer reassurance that they need in order to complete their buying journey with confidence, and without having to visit lots of different websites.

She concludes: “We’ve already mentioned how a few negative reviews can snowball into a lot more. However, if retailers get their personalisation right, this snowball effect can work in the opposite way: a few positive experiences are likely to lead to more people buying, with this effect then multiplying over time.  The savviest shoppers are likely to check Trustpilot or Amazon before they take the plunge, so making sure each and every customer remembers their experience for the right reasons is paramount.” 

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