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Bazaarvoice Report: High Expectations for E-commerce, as Consumers Demand Authenticity, Connection, and Trust

As network of clients sees an 20% year-over-year increase in online orders since the beginning of 2020, Bazaarvoice highlights how user-generated content, social commerce, and brand advocacy are critical to e-commerce success

Bazaarvoice, Inc., the leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions, today released its annual Shopper Experience Index. The global report explores how consumer shopping preferences and behavior are rapidly evolving and how businesses should adapt to these trends — some of which are now accelerating faster than ever before due to the impact of COVID-19.

The research highlights how consumers are changing how the world shops — key findings for North America include:

  • The traditional e-commerce product page is shifting from brand-produced to consumer-produced content: When shopping online, the largest portion of shoppers (56%) said reviews were the e-commerce feature they relied on most to make informed purchase decisions faster, far ahead of the product description and professional photos (16%). When asked what type of UGC they wish they had more access to, photos from real customers was consumers’ top request. UGC doesn’t just address these preferences, it also impacts revenue: globally, when shoppers engage with reviews on best-in-class websites, there is a 138% lift in conversion and a 159% increase in revenue per visitor, both up from the previous year. To address this preference for more UGC, especially now as more consumers are shopping online, we expect brands to prioritize UGC on the e-commerce product page and to incorporate a wider variety of authentic content from consumers, making product descriptions and professional photos the secondary focus.

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  • Not only do consumers prefer recommendations from peers, they are also purchasing directly from each other: This evolution of the typical e-commerce environment is already playing out one step further in two different but related trends: social commerce and recommerce. In the last year, 45% of respondents said they had purchased a product through a social media platform, 41% had purchased a product an influencer had recommended, and 62% had made a purchase from a secondhand marketplace. With much of the world shifting to online environments in the last two months, brands should determine how social commerce plays a role in their e-commerce strategy, particularly platforms or features that allow consumers to connect and shop with each other, with brands playing a less overt role.
  • Brands should leverage increased customer feedback to their advantage: Consumers can reach out to brands at any time through a variety of channels. Compared to other regions, North American consumers were most likely to say they had complained about a brand on social media (44%) and to have asked a brand a question across different channels, including through chat bots (36%), online Q&A features (41%), and store associates (46%). The always-on nature of customer feedback should be an advantage for brands, as long as they respond to and learn from their customers. 89% of consumers expect to hear from a brand within 24 hours when they ask a question through social media, and almost half expect brands to improve their products based on negative reviews. As consumers are unable to experience products and engage with brands in person, brands should be prepared to address an influx of customer questions and feedback, identify common praise and complaints, and quickly learn from this feedback to strengthen their business.

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  • To build trust with consumers, brands and retailers should evaluate their approach to brand advocacy: Consumers look to a wide variety of people when it comes to reviews, recommendations, and content to inform purchase decisions. Overall, 75% of shoppers said they sometimes or always trust consumer reviews, 39% said they trust a brand employees’ product recommendation, and 40% said they’ve purchased a product from an influencer because they trusted their endorsement. It is critical for brands and retailers to have an approach to advocacy that includes a mix of different types of authentic, trustworthy “influencers” — from everyday consumers and employees to subject matter experts and micro-influencers — especially at a time when social media is playing a larger role in the shopping experience. Consumers are choosing to shop with businesses they want to see succeed in a post-pandemic world, and brand trust is more important now than ever: three out of four shoppers choose products based on brand reputation.

“The insights we found, while based on research conducted in early 2020, are especially relevant today, as businesses everywhere navigate this period of uncertainty,” said Joe Rohrlich, Chief Revenue Officer at Bazaarvoice. “More shoppers are turning to online shopping out of convenience and necessity. This shift will accelerate innovation in e-commerce across a variety of industries, and our research shows what consumers are looking for from their shopping experience. Brands that provide an authentic online experience, agile customer service, and the ability for shoppers to connect to each other are poised to succeed now and in the future.”

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