Reaching the modern-day customer is tough. With online shopping, customers have access to an unlimited number of brands and products, their attention spans are shorter and split between multiple devices, and they’re constantly researching, price-comparing and exploring different options before making their purchase decisions. Today’s brands are challenged with capturing consumers’ divided attention and with growing sales in an extremely crowded e-commerce environment.
To stay competitive, brands must capitalize on the online presence and sizable audiences of their retail partners. But rather than standing by and hoping for improved conversion rates or higher traffic, brands can take an active role in building their online presence on their retail partner websites.
Simply put, being proactive when selling through online retail channels leads to numerous benefits downstream. Below are four tips to get the most out of your online sales through the retail channel.
1. Use the powerful voice of the customer
If a retail partner sells your brand’s products through an online site, keep in mind that studies show that including customer ratings and reviews in the web experience correlates to increased conversions and purchases.
Many companies collect customer feedback and opinions about their products, which gives them a wealth of helpful information that can influence other shoppers’ purchase decisions. But the voice of the customer is ineffective if other shoppers don’t have access to it. By sharing customer reviews with the retail partners that sell your products, brands can extend the reach of their customer ratings and reviews and boost consideration and sales through the retail channel.
Capturing and publishing customer reviews may seem like uncharted waters for some brands, but it’s well worth the investment. Consider the hundreds and thousands of other products that retailers sell on their online stores. Customer reviews can help your brand get discovered and stand out in this noisy environment, and products with reviews receive more attention and achieve better sales. Our company has found that on average, displaying customer reviews on retail web pages produces a 10 percent lift in conversion and return visitor rate of 5 percent, and these numbers increase as the volume of reviews grows.
Additionally, once you’ve kick-started the exchange of your customer reviews, more serendipitous opportunities could follow. Your retailer may be more likely to feature your product more prominently on their e-commerce site and mention your brand in their social media streams.
Using the voice of the customer can influence sales in retailers’ physical stores when people are researching products in-aisle on their mobile devices. In some cases, retailers may offer exclusive, in-store displays and deals for popular products favored and liked by real-life customers.
In the same way that customer reviews can help your brand differentiate your products from your competitors’, retailers can leverage the voices of your customers to sell more in their stores and compete with other sellers.
2. Timing is everything
It’s important to do your homework on your retailers, but time is of the essence. From the moment a product is picked up by a retailer’s distribution channels, brands have roughly a quarter to stand out among the countless other brands they carry online. The key is to act quickly when building your online presence on their channels by proactively collecting customer reviews on your products.
Timing is not only important when preventing your brand from fading into the background; it’s also important when it comes to review relevance. A recent study from BrightLocal notes that 73 percent of consumers think reviews older than three months are irrelevant, and 22 percent of consumers will only consider reviews written within the last two weeks.
Feed your retail partners a constant stream of fresh, current consumer reviews to sustain your online presence on their sites.
3. Let customers try out new products
Collecting and displaying customer reviews on your retailers’ websites is a great option for products that are already available in the market. But what about the products that haven’t launched yet? How can brands build a healthy review presence when your product is just hitting the shelves?
It’s a chicken versus egg dilemma: Reviews are critical to selling more on product pages, but new products don’t have any customers to rate or review them.
One of the most effective ways to collect customer reviews quickly and authentically is by offering free samples of your products to consumers in exchange for an honest review. Sampling is a great way of rewarding your existing customers with a sneak peek of new products, and this tactic tends to generate authentic, high-quality feedback.
With the right approach, sampling can lay the foundation for a steady stream of consumer reviews that you can share and distribute to your retail partners. Authentic ratings and reviews for new products will help convert browsers into buyers, and give your retail partners valuable content the first day they start selling your new product online or in-store.
4. Offer your expertise
It’s impossible for large-scale retailers to be the experts on every product they sell. But their prospects and customers will want access to expertise, experience and recommendations to help make the best buying decisions.
As a brand, you have an opportunity to be the resident expert about your products and can offer helpful advice or answer specific customer questions about your products and the proper ways to use them. Share your expertise and product knowledge to provide an educational, informative point of view that your retailers can share with their audiences.
Brands have a major opportunity to boost their channel sales if they are deliberate about building a strong online presence on their retail partners’ sites. Use and share the voice of your customers, feed your retailers an ongoing stream of fresh content, offer your expertise, and activate your brand advocates with sampling. Both you and your retailers will be happy with the improvement in customer engagement, consideration and sales.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.