As consumers move seamlessly between the online and offline worlds while they shop, online research is increasingly influencing their in-store purchasing decisions. A new study indicates that the frequency with which Consumer-Generated Content (CGC) influenced offline purchases jumped from 39% in 2016 to 45% in 2017.
This measurement of CGC’s influence on shoppers who Research Online, Buy Offline (ROBO) comes from Bazaarvoice. The company developed a metric calledthe ROBO Multiplier to quantify how much online reviews, responses to Q&As, videos and photos uploaded by buyers, and other consumer content affect the brick-and-mortar retail experience.
The extent to which online reviews and other CGC influence in-store buying behavior varies by category. Several product categories saw notable growth in ROBO behavior from 2016 to 2017, including tools and hardware, which went from 32% in 2016 to 61% in 2017; automotive, which increased from 40% to 65%; bath, which grew from 36% to 48%; and toys and games, climbing from 44% to 53%.
Not surprisingly, products in which quality or performance is easily assessed from a face-to-face examination, or repeat purchases such as food, tend to have lower ROBO values.
Bazaarvoice offered retailers the following tips for capitalizing on ROBO behavior:
- Turn your mobile experience into your best sales associate: The more information, value and ease you can provide via your mobile experience, the easier it is to gain preference in the mind of the shopper;
- Use your product page to educate shoppers: Product demos, reviews and visual CGC serve as great examples for how others have used a product;
- Realize that your web site drives value beyond its online “walls” into the offline experience: Use partners that can help drive content volume and quality on your retail site; and
- CGC influences shoppers even if you don’t sell directly on your site: Getting social proof (i.e., taking cues from the crowd to make decisions) in front of consumers in the moments that matter can be the difference between making a sale and losing out to a competitor.
To compile the report, Bazaarvoice analyzed 4.59 million data points across 32 global retailers, spanning 72 top-level product categories, 887 sub-product categories and 966 brand-retailer combinations.