Why is user generated content missing from physical retail?
Online customer reviews have long been seen as critical to supporting consumers’ purchasing decisions, while online platforms from Instagram to Tiktok and Youtube are increasingly driving product discovery. User generated content (UGC), however, can barely be found in stores.
Bazaarvoice’s “The State Of Retail” study – based on a survey of 8,000 shoppers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. – found many consumers would welcome more UGC at the store level.
Asked what retail technologies they are “excited to see implemented,” the top answer — QR codes that can be scanned for contactless checkout (38 percent) — was followed by three UGC-supported offerings:
- QR codes that can be scanned to read reviews (34 percent);
- Virtual displays showcasing other customer reviews, photos and videos (32 percent);
- Availability of live and up-to-date star ratings in-store based on customer feedback (31 percent).
Online, half of the survey respondents want to see UGC displayed on brand and retail sites and their social channels. Fifty-six percent agreed UGC will be a deciding factor in their future purchasing decisions.
A survey of more than 500 decision-makers who work in retail in the same countries as part of Bazaarvoice’s study found about a third planning to add UGC at the store level, including 34 percent planning to enable in-store QR scanning to access reviews.
At physical retail, experiments in bringing UGC to stores are most noticeable at the Amazon Books and Amazing 4-star formats. Wine sellers, record stores, book stores and outdoor stores such as REI sometimes offer staff suggestions, but customer-generated reviews remain hard to find inside physical stores.
Nor does the in-store experience include access to influencers and social media platforms that offer the online shopper inspiration and discovery.
A survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers from May 2021 by Statista found 54 percent of Gen Zers and 58 percent of Millennials agreed that social platforms were a better place to find out about new products than online searches.
- The State Of Retail – Bazaarvoice
- Share of shoppers in the United States who think social platforms are a better place to find out about a new product than online search in 2021, by generation – Statista
- What New Retail Technologies Are Shoppers Excited About? – MarketingCharts
- Global State of Mobile – Comscore
- User-Generated Content Represents 39% of Time Spent With Media: Study – Variety
- Platforms catch social commerce fever, with varying degrees of success – eMarketer
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS Do you see a way for user generated content — whether customer reviews or product-related social posts — to play a larger role in the in-store shopping experience? Is part of the problem that UGS is incompatible with regular in-store shopping behavior?