Ratings and Reviews + Electronic Shelf Labels = A Match Made in Retail Store Heaven
The verdict is in: 2016 is the year of the store reinvented. We’ve all seen the headlines and stories of how retailers of all sizes around the world are giving their brick-and-mortar shelves a makeover by melding the offline and online worlds. Target recently announced it will completely revamp its stores to attract more millennial shoppers; True Religion has announced an endless aisle solution for shoppers and store associates via the Apple Watch; dozens of retailers such as Macy’s and Best Buy have launched “buy online, pick up in-store” solutions; and many others have turned physical stores into distribution centers to better support omnichannel order fulfilment.
When it comes to the new and improved digital retail store, however, the smartphone is the game changer. The rise of the smartphone enables a constantly connected consumer to be hypertargeted at any stage of their purchasing journey with messages relevant to their shopping occasion and history. The smartest retailers know that being able to engage, interact and influence at any stage of the path to purchase is essential, especially right at the shelf edge via a smartphone and through the power of ratings and reviews.
There's no denying product reviews and ratings have a big impact on consumers’ expectations and purchasing decisions, online and offline. In a recent study, PowerReviews discovered ratings and reviews ranked second only to price as the most important consideration affecting a purchase decision. Those aged 18 to 44 were 61 percent more likely to trust consumer reviews over friends and family. Furthermore, 70 percent of mobile shoppers reported being more likely to purchase a product if the retailer’s mobile site or app offers reviews. And the younger the customer, the more pronounced the preference.
In recent years, we've seen retailers begin to add this type of consumer-generated content via digital displays — e.g., electronic shelf labels (ESLs) — to help directly influence in-store purchases at the shelf. In a recent survey from Bazaarvoice, 54 percent of consumers aged 25 to 34 and nearly half of consumers in the 35 to 44 and 34 to 54 age brackets state that consumer-generated content has an influence on their in-store purchases. That's a huge marketing opportunity for retailers!
By integrating this consumer-generated content into a fully graphic ESL, this can be extended further to connect with consumers on their smartphones using a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) ESL and making it accessible to the consumer via a retailer or branded mobile app. Retailers can ensure they're providing as much pertinent product information as possible to shoppers while they're actually in-store and at the point of decision.
Retailers know shoppers will be looking at ratings, reviews, product videos and social media posts about their products. Why not embed that consumer-generated content front and center in an ESL, turning the conversation from one based on company branding to one informed by consumer experience? This can increase the confidence and trust not only in the product, but in the retailer itself to help drive loyalty and retention.
The new bold and digitally enabled retail store will continue to see many changes, but the end game will remain the same — how to delight, influence and convert shoppers with the information they want, how they want it and where they want it. By making consumer-generated content available at the very point of decision via the smartphone, and through the use of ESLs and BLE-enabled ESLs, retailers can easily fuel consumers’ confidence to ultimately win their business and trust.
Paul Milner is the global marketing director for Displaydata, a provider of digital dynamic display solutions and electronic shelf labels.