The strength of the retail industry cannot be ignored. In fact, total retail sales in the United States were projected to amount to 5.94 trillion in U.S. dollars in 2024, up from around 5.47 trillion U.S. dollars in 2019. While the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly skewed this projection, it’s still clear retailers are critical to fueling the global economy. To continue to build both your brand and trust with customers in an uncertain world, retailers and other businesses alike must focus on prioritizing their reputation, both online and off. This entails placing a strong focus on local reviews for retail brands.
What customers are saying about your business online is especially critical. Now more than ever before, consumers are looking into how your retail business operates and how you’re addressing concerns. Having clear insight into what customers are saying across each of your locations is equally as important. As more customers continue to embrace the digital shopping experience, 93% of consumers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. If you’re neglecting what your customers are saying, you risk losing business to your competitors.
Additionally, local reviews impact more than just a customer’s perception of your brand. They also have an impact on:
- Your rankings in the SERPs
- Which search results get surfaced
- The way consumers find and choose your business
- If a consumer will complete a purchase
Local Reviews Best Practices for the Retail Industry
We’ve asked our experts how retailers specifically can benefit from placing an increased focus on their reputation management strategy, and actionable steps to consider as you progress your reputation management strategy. Here are our reviews best practices for the retail industry.
Respond to Every Review
You likely feel compelled to reach out to your customers when you see a positive review detailing their satisfaction with your business. However, if you ignore the negative reviews your business receives, you risk your ranking in the SERPs. Google has made it evident that in order to build trust with the search giant, you must also build trust with your customers.
“Reviews are an important aspect of local SEO to retailers not only because they can improve rankings and clicks, but they can also help brands keep a pulse on the consumer sentiment across the footprint. We know reviews can make a substantial impact on consumer purchasing decisions, so listening to feedback and responding accordingly is one of the best ways a brand can show up in the local reviews space.” – Chantel Green, Account Director at Rio SEO
On the GMB Support Page dedicated to improving your local ranking on Google, you must “manage and respond to reviews” by interacting “with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business”. This means you must respond to all reviews, both good and bad. For negative review responses, we recommend creating templated responses to ensure your customer service staff appropriately and effectively respond to critical feedback. Learn more about how to manage negative reviews here.
Encourage Reviews Soon After Purchase
There is a short window of opportunity to stay top of mind with your customers, and that is usually once they’ve made some sort of interaction with your brand. Shortly after this interaction is the ideal time to encourage them to leave a review, whether they interacted with one of your customer support representatives or purchased a product. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers to write a review, 68% of consumers will leave a review if they’re simply asked.
“Reviews matter because it helps a retailer understand pain points from a macro and micro level. Having this type of information reveals trends and opportunities for the retailer to improve the experience of the customer through better customer service, store experience, and overall engagement with the brand.” – Lauren Abramson, Account Director at Rio SEO
Avoid Dishonest Review Practices
Online social proof is the backbone of a business’s reputation. A company with an upstanding reputation among its customers and community sets itself up as a must-stop shop and leader in the industry. This may influence brands to solicit reviews in what Google deems to be a dishonest manner. To avoid having your business flagged in GMB, steer clear of:
- Offering incentives in exchange for reviews
- Authoring positive reviews in an attempt to boost your rating
- Attempting to delete negative reviews your company receives
By doing any of the aforementioned, you risk your business being penalized or banned from Google as well as other review platforms.
Monitor Reviews Across All Your Locations
It’s undeniable that reviews your business receives will either attract new customers or turn away potential business. This holds true for each of your locations, which is why it’s crucial to monitor your brand reputation across all your locations. By doing so, your brand can better:
- Pinpoint top-performing locations to help guide other locations towards the same level of success
- Determine how lower-performing locations can improve
- Mine for both positive and negative common themes
- Recognize areas for improvement
- Celebrate successes at both the location and brand level
- Maintain the same standards and expectations at all your store
“We all know reviews are a local rank factor and provide a comfort level for potential customers, but they are also an important source of content that can appear in local results based on user queries.” – Pam Gray, Account Director at Rio SEO
Utilize a Review Management Tool
It can be difficult to manage reviews across your brand when you manage hundreds or thousands of retail locations globally. With a local reviews tool, you have the ability to see and respond to reviews for all your locations all within one centralized dashboard, ensuring you never miss an opportunity to connect with your customers. Rio’s Local Reviews platform provides unparalleled insight into what customers are saying about you, helps you mine for common themes, and allows you to easily respond to all your reviews–both positive and negative.
“Managing your reputation in the retail sector is more important than ever given the steep competition and an informed digital consumer. Over 63% of consumers check reviews on Google alone before visiting a business. So managing your presence by actively monitoring to look for feedback trends, as well as responding to both positive and negative reviews to show customer engagement should be part of any retailer’s digital toolkit.” – Mick Wilson, Vice President Customer Success at Rio SEO
Want even more local reviews strategy recommendations? Check out our blog post Local Reviews Strategy: 10 Ways to Make Yours Smarter & More Effective for more helpful tips.
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