Do you think the reviews customers leave on your website, social media, or other review sites have an impact on your bottom line? Of course they do!
In fact, it's startling just how much the modern consumer relies on reviews and star-ratings for their purchasing decisions. More than 80% of consumers report reading online reviews before making a purchase. About half are strongly influenced by star-ratings in their decision making process.
Furthermore, about two-thirds of consumers say they leave a bad review if something went wrong with their purchase. Half said they've left a negative review in just the last year alone.
But it's not only bad reviews that influence customer behaviour. Positive reviews can be a huge boost for an online brand. Great reviews have a remarkable effect on building a brand's image and giving it a leg-up above the competition. The result is higher conversion rates, better customer retention, and higher sales.
The impact that the online review culture has on eCommerce is only growing. How do you build trust in the online marketplace—and use online reviews to not only boost sales, but also your level of service and the quality of your product offerings?
Let's find out.
A business can't succeed without customers. You have to build a strong customer base to build your brand and earn your place in the market.
The only problem is that customers are more demanding than ever. Increased competition in the online retail space means they expect a level of service and support that would have been impossible just a few years ago.
Consumers are also a lot more connected and a lot less tolerant than they used to be. There are a multitude of online review websites and social media platforms geared to boost their opinion. Which means they have a voice online that they never had in the good old days of brick-and-mortar retail—a voice they often use to vent their anger and frustration with a bad retail experience.
Online ratings can have a serious impact on your business. These days, consumers hardly make any purchasing decisions before turning to complete strangers for their opinions and insight.
They want to know what they're getting before taking out their credit card. And increasingly, this comes in the form of customer feedback from other shoppers.
You have to take charge of the online review culture and earn those coveted five-star reviews. You need the right strategy to tackle the problem, and the right technology to support your business operations. Without it, you won't be able to win over the hearts and minds of the modern consumer and earn your place inthe online marketplace.
The nature of the online marketplace pushes customers to try different retailers or brands. Which means that it gets more and more difficult to retain customers.
What's more, customers are getting more and more unforgiving when it comes to bad experiences. You have to maintain a stellar brand image to survive and thrive in the market.
Many retailers feel that they are losing control of their online customer experience and resultant feedback. In recent surveys, half of the online retailers reported that bad reviews are getting worse. Almost 40% said they don't know how to improve this dismal state of affairs.
What is the effect of bad reviews on an online retailer? Some researchers say that it takes as little as five negative reviews to completely tank an online retailer—to the point that consumers are completely put off their website and brand.
This is the stark reality of the online review culture. Consumer feedback has an incredible sway over the success of your business—both in generating sales and building long-term relationships with customers.
You can't afford bad reviews to turn into lost sales. According to some researchers, a merchant that is rated 5-star makes on average 33% more revenue than a 3-star merchant.
How do you respond to negative reviews? It's best not to see them as an existential threat, but as an opportunity for growth. Customers are telling you where you can improve, so you should probably take their advice. You can learn a lot from looking at online surveys that document consumers' behaviour in this regard.
You have to turn negative reviews into positive ones. Otherwise you will continue to earn bad reviews—which will continue to depress sales and damage your brand.
In the harsh eCommerce marketplace, great service will translate into positive online reviews. Which means you have to make great products available to your customers for purchase.
But that's not all. What about your after-sale service? It's just as important to deliver the right product in a short amount of time, than having the right selection of products available on your website. Many online retailers offer order fulfilment services of two days or less. You will certainly stand out in the market if you're able to match this level of service.
The fact is that great customer service is crucial to your success. It should be a high priority in your company. Online customers expect an experience that is both efficient and personalised.
This can be a bit much to live up to, especially with the razor-thin margins that online retailers often have to contend with.But you really don't have a choice, as bad customer service often leads to the worst online reviews.
How bad is it? Well, according to surveys, about two-thirds of all low-star reviews result from problems that occurred after the online shopper paid for their online purchase. When an item doesn't arrive on time—or an order has to be cancelled due to unexpected out-of-stock issues—other potential customers will hear about it.
If you look at the online retail marketplace, one thing that is consistent across sectors and industries is that consumers expect a high level of service in exchange for their patronage.
What's also true is that customers demand the same level of service from online stores that they expect from brick-and-mortar stores.
In fact, in order to build a loyal online customer base, consistency is key. Your level of service should remain consistent between your physical store and online marketplace. This also means that if customers don't get a great experience from every interaction with your company, it could seriously hurt your brand.
For example, here are some of the bad experiences that could lead to negative reviews:
These issues are damaging to your brand, and you have to sort them out. When it comes to building long term relationships with customers, image is paramount. You might also notice that all these problems have to do with inconsistent order fulfilment.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: order management systems. Because when you're trying to boost your positive reviews and minimise negative online feedback, every sector of your business should consistently give customers an excellent shopping experience.
It's difficult to meet customers' high expectations in the modern market.
Fortunately, there are technology solutions that can streamline your business operations and automate the most time-consuming and tedious processes that can lead to human error.
The answer comes in the form of Order Management Software (OMS). With the right OMS technology in place, you can manage all your order and inventory management functions in one central hub that works across all your sales channels. In this way you will be able to provide a consistent experience to customers and promote your brand image.
The OMS can take over the management of several key tasks in the order fulfilment and inventory management processes, including processing orders, organising shipping and related logistics, as well as handling returns.
The software can handle the complete fulfilment process in one, easily-accessible interface. It can automate many of the most important back office tasks that make a webstore tick.
The OMS will allow you to give the type of service you promised in your marketing campaign by aligning your front end branding message with your back end business processes. As an order is taken through the fulfilment process, the OMS will streamline all the necessary supply chain functions to pick, pack, and deliver the right product to the customer.
An OMS will allow you to process more orders in a faster time frame, while minimising human error. It will also take care of your order processing across all your sales channels.
Which means that you will finally be able to deliver the consistent brand experience that will put you ahead of the competition and build customer loyalty.
These days, customers expect to be able to do business with you in a seamless fashion across all your sales channels. For example, they expect to be able to order products from you in store, online, through social media, or through a dedicated store app.
What's more, they expect the store assistant to be able to give them customer support for their online purchase—or perhaps even pick up their online purchase at a physical location.
This is why you need dedicated software to handle your order processing and inventory management.
When an OMS is working correctly, it opens the door to same-day or next-day delivery. Furthermore, your sales staff and webstore will have access to the same inventory data, which means that customers will get their product if it's advertised to be in stock.
A good OMS will allow you to offer several advanced shipping options to your customers, such as:
To provide these services requires a high level of order automation and coordination between the different parts of your company. For example, if you want to give customers the option to "Ship from Store'', the OMS needs to have oversight of your entire inventory across all sales channels.
The inventory levels of your brick-and-mortar stores need to be synced with the inventory in your warehouses. The system also needs to automate the process of shifting inventory between stores and warehouses to be available for the customer to buy at a particular physical location.
There are various operational challenges associated with such an operation. Suddenly your retail store which is normally used to sell products is used to ship orders. Which means that you've just turned your store into a warehouse.
When your OMS is functioning correctly, you will be able to automate and streamline every single one of these shipping options and customer interactions.
The online review culture has been growing over many years. These days, it's normal for a customer to first check reviews online before deciding on accommodation, a restaurant, or an online purchase.
Which means that you probably only get one shot to make a good impression with a customer. You have to provide the exceptional service, fast delivery, and accurate billing they expect.
This becomes possible if you have the right tools and systems in place. With the right back office technologies and processes, every customer interaction turns into a brand-building exercise—from the moment the customer clicks the buy button, to the delivery of their product and an effortless returns process.
That is why you need the right OMS solution to streamline and optimise order processing and allow you to provide unmatched customer service. Your customers will enjoy a seamless buying experience across all your sales channels and get their product in the most convenient and cost effective way possible.
The right technology will put you ahead in the market and give you an edge over the competition. Which will translate into great reviews, build your credibility in the market and increase revenue.
Now you are well on your way to build your brand and grow your business.