… customers want the ability to take shopping advice from their peers.
“The customer wants a more objective voice saying, ‘I own this, and these are the things you need to know about it,”‘ said Denise Incandela, president of Saks Inc.’s Saks Direct, who expects the feature to lower the company’s returns rate and increase “conversion,” the percentage of browsers who actually buy.
Product reviews have been shown in surveys to boost loyalty and sales with online customers who can’t see or touch the merchandise. According to the E-tailing Group, 71% of online shoppers said their choices are most influenced by customer reviews, followed by discussion forums. Retailers also have discovered that reviews tend to be overwhelmingly positive, averaging 4.3 out of 5, according to Bazaarvoice Inc., which provides review software for 1,000 retailers, including Saks and Nordstrom.
Some luxury retailers are reluctant to share the role of fashion arbiter with customers. Net-a-Porter.com gives its customers a way to participate in conversations via its Fashion Fix social hub—with blog posts, videos and live Facebook and Twitter feeds—but without overriding the company’s status as a fashion authority, according to CEO Natalie Massenet. “We view ourselves as editors on behalf of a global customer base, and we are expressing our own opinions,” she said.