Enterprise brands that have worked hard to win customer loyalty are losing sales because of simple mistakes in their review strategy.
Online fashion stores face unique challenges. In a landscape of fast fashion, deep discounts, and tons of competition, even the most successful fashion brands need to work hard to stay ahead.
While the top brands in fashion are already a step ahead because they have great brand recognition and loyal customers that love them, one major mistake is costing them: They’re not taking full advantage of customer reviews.
Why is this so important? Uncertainty is the biggest killer of online sales.
Reviews create the social proof that instills confidence and customer trust in shoppers – and in a world where thousands of brands are competing for the same sales, smart branding means taking every opportunity to quell uncertainty.
Small to medium-sized businesses are quickly taking over market share from enterprise brands who don’t understand how to appeal to online audiences.
This study focuses on enterprise-level fashion brands that have successfully captured the Millennial market, because Millennials have grown up in the world of reviews and are most apt to both write them and react to them when making purchasing decisions.
To get a more balanced view, it focuses on top fashion brands in certain subsectors like lingerie, fast fashion, eCommerce-only, etc.
Here’s an in-depth look at how 5 of the most successful fashion brands are using reviews and how you can learn from them to improve your review strategy.
Victoria’s Secret is the most successful lingerie brand in the global market, and it also performs the best out of all the stores examined. Not only do they offer the option to sort their products by top rated, but they also display reviews on product pages. This is a huge plus, because seeing that others have rated a product well encourages customers to click through to a specific product.
Within the category pages, they display star ratings prominently next to the product itself, with the option to view more detailed reviews below. If brands work so hard to get customer reviews, it makes no sense to not display them prominently.
Victoria’s Secret earns shoppers’ confidence because they want to show off their reviews and display them above the fold.
Now let’s take a look at the amount of reviews they have per product. Reviews per product impacts sales, because seeing one review of five stars makes a customer less likely to purchase than seeing 150 reviews for four stars.
In a random sampling of top-rated Victoria’s Secret products in their “Very Sexy Lingerie” section, products had an average of 34.7 reviews. This is pretty good, considering the average for most enterprise businesses is less than 1 percent. The only downside is the review distribution was pretty uneven – two of the items had 150 reviews, while others had 0.
Victoria’s Secret, like all of the stores in this sample, makes one very big mistake: They don’t have verified trust badges.
Without verified trust badges, customers aren’t positive that the reviewer actually purchased the product, or that the reviewer is even a real person.
Additionally, after placing and receiving an order with Victoria’s Secret, customers receive no request to review their purchase. This is a huge mistake because asking customers to review purchases after they receive them results in some of the highest review conversion rates.
Victoria’s Secret overall is doing best out of all the enterprise stores sampled. However, they may not be doing enough to keep competition at bay.
According to Business Insider, Adore Me, an eCommerce lingerie store, is quickly beginning to rise up against Victoria’s Secret as a real competitor.
Lingerie eCommerce brands are on the rise, and brands like Adore Me that are taking advantage of reviews demonstrate a growing trend of mid-to-enterprise sized eCommerce businesses taking over traditional brick-and-mortar stores. These top fashion brands often lack the ability to keep up with the times and leverage customer feedback effectively.
While Victoria’s Secret is doing a great job with on-site reviews, they’re not doing so well off site, especially when it comes to social. They aren’t sharing reviews to social, asking customers to share reviews on social, or using reviews in social ads. Integrating customer testimonials in social marketing expands a brand’s reach and brings new, highly qualified customers.
Free People is on the high-end of the Millennial price spectrum, so reviews are absolutely critical for convincing their customers to pay the premium. Unfortunately, they don’t make their reviews clear enough.
The options to sort by “Customer Favorites” or “Most Hearted” are confusing. To a shopper, it’s not clear what “Most Hearted” means or how Free People quantifies what makes an item a customer favorite.
In the Customer Favorites section, the number one item has a rating of 3 stars, which doesn’t instill confidence that these really reflect customer favorites and makes it more confusing as to what criteria they use to classify items as favorites.
Is it by number of orders? Number of social shares? There’s no way to know.
Also, there’s no sign of reviews on their category pages, which doesn’t encourage shoppers to click through to any specific product.
Within the product pages, they do better. They have healthily even review distribution – while their top 10 products in customer favorites only had 4 reviews on average, the distribution was much more even than Victoria’s Secret.
Free People does include detailed reviews in a separate tab, which is not ideal because it makes them harder to access.
While the average number of reviews per product was 4, their distribution of reviews per product was much more even than other enterprise stores we examined.
One important takeaway from Free People is that while they set a good example for even review distribution, they aren’t taking full advantage of their price point to drive reviews. The data shows that more expensive products get more reviews. As a high-end brand, Free People could be getting many more reviews than they are.
ASOS performed the worst of all the stores, which was surprising, considering that they’re an online-only store that is popular internationally. Their reviews strategy seems to be to have none at all: they have absolutely no reviews on their products.
One reason for this is possibly because ASOS sells thousands of products from over 850 brands, so they are less invested in working to get other brands product reviews.
Although ASOS may be able to get away with not having reviews because they are a successful, established eCommerce fashion brand with a large amount of satisfied shoppers, they’re hurting their business by missing out on the chance to convert new shoppers.
Reviews could allow ASOS to expand their audience and turn their current customers into brand advocates.
Because they don’t host reviews themselves, customer searches for “ASOS reviews” will lead potential shoppers to other pages. That’s a big mistake. Brands should never let their online reputation out of their control.
Urban Outfitters has long been a favorite of Millennials, but they are hit or miss with reviews. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve definitely been deterred from purchasing products because of a lack of reviews.
While they do offer the option to sort by highest rated, even after choosing that option, there are no reviews on the category pages.
Within the product page, they do list reviews, but at the bottom where it’s easy to miss. Additionally, they don’t take review distribution into consideration. So while this was one of the highest rated products, it only has one review, which doesn’t boost customer confidence.
Urban Outfitters needs to watch out – in 2015, it’s shares fell 35%.
Many traditional brick-and-mortar sellers are struggling to keep up with fast-paced eCommerce businesses, who have adapted to Millennials’ needs. As the internet has transformed how people shop, it’s vital that brands pay attention to the importance of social proof.
Forever 21 is one of the top fast fashion brands around. It’s at an advantage because as a relatively new brand, it grew up in a time when user-generated content was already on the rise in marketing.
Forever 21 does offer the option to sort by highest rated, although even after selecting that option, ratings aren’t displayed on category pages. Like Free People and Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 is missing out on the chance to get customers to click through to product pages.
Within a product page, they don’t do great: star ratings and reviews are displayed under other information, which makes them less noticeable. Additionally, for one of their highest rated products, they only have one review.
They have an average of 1.9 reviews per product for products that are actually listed under “most reviewed women’s clothes”. Additionally, they have many items listed as “Sold Out” that don’t have any reviews, which means if they are asking customers for reviews, they aren’t doing it effectively.
It’s not enough to just have reviews. You need to take advantage of reviews’ power to drive traffic and sales at every step of the customer journey.
Here are five takeaways from this study to help you improve your review strategy:
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