April 21, 2020 — Retailers will increasingly need to meet consumer expectations across multiple fronts with ‘trust’ and ‘reputation’ becoming almost as important as ‘price’ and ‘convenience’ according to the annual Shopper Experience Index from Bazaarvoice, Inc., the leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions.

The report, which draws on data from over a billion monthly shoppers in the Bazaarvoice Network of retailers, brands, and other sites, alongside a global survey of more than 5,000 shoppers, found the majority of shoppers (62%) choose products based on brand reputation.

Additionally, some 77% of shoppers agree that businesses are held more accountable by customers than they were five years ago. This figure could increase in response to uncertain times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers judge brands on how they treat employees and respond to the crisis overall, as well as look for reassurance about orders being fulfilled and enquiries answered.

“Brand trust is increasingly a key factor in shopper decisions, and businesses face a significant challenge when it comes to offering convenience and low prices while building deeper, trusted relationships and engaging in meaningful conversation,” says Suzin Wold, SVP Marketing, at Bazaarvoice.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has only accelerated the shift to interactions moving online with brands needing to think smartly about how they build trust and meaningful engagement at a time when shoppers may never set foot in a store or interact with a human representative,” adds Wold.

People trust people

More than three quarters of shoppers (78%) say they trust reviews and – further underlining the importance of trust – 39% of shoppers named product reviews as the most important part of an online product page, topping the list ahead of the product description and professional photos in second place (22%).

This is particularly important at this time when people cannot visit stores and have turned to shopping online; people are looking to other shoppers for the confidence to purchase. This demonstrates the extent to which people trust other people and value user-generated content (UGC) that shows the product in use.

Consistent with shoppers wanting to see more UGC, Bazaarvoice has seen a 17% year-on-year increase in reviews with photos in the Bazaarvoice Network and a 67% increase in photo submissions in the Influenster community of influential shoppers who are invited to review products.

As network of clients sees a 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.

Consumers crave conversation

Alongside high expectations when it comes to trust, consumers are also placing considerable demands on retailers when it comes to how they communicate online. Due to the impact of Covid-19, store opening times are different and deliveries are often taking longer than usual; customers expect updates from brands and regular communication with the correct information now more than ever.

Some 40% of people expect a public response to a negative review, while 89% expect to hear from a brand within 24 hours or less when they ask a question through social media.

Consumers’ current inability to touch and feel products and engage with store staff in person before purchasing, combined with brands’ increased challenges with availability and shipping, is likely resulting in an even higher demand on businesses to respond to consumers’ feedback and questions.

“Our data underlines the importance of trust and this will only be more important during this difficult time when people are naturally looking for reassurance. Retail needs to respond by providing clear, accurate information that builds trust and by remaining responsive when it comes to meaningful conversations with shoppers online,” concludes Wold.

View the full report: Shopper Experience Index

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