Online for offline business

The impact of online reviews for offline businesses

For better or worse, the Internet has seriously revolutionised the way we live. But it wasn’t so long ago when a substantial proportion of consumers were cautious and suspicious of making online purchases of products or services – so what’s changed?

One of the great features of the Internet is the opportunity for consumers to freely express their opinions on the products and services they have purchased. Although word of mouth referrals are probably the most valuable for many businesses, online reviews have helped to guide consumer decisions and rule out or confirm some of the uncertainties associated with purchasing online.

The benefits appear to be significant for businesses operating on the Internet, but how do they help high street showrooms and other retail outlets? For example, how about a bathroom showroom that doesn’t sell its products online?

Research by Design recently undertook research amongst over 2,000 consumers and the results revealed that just 7% would envisage purchasing a new bathroom suite online. The vast majority suggest that they would rather see the products ‘in the flesh’ and make this purchase from a reputable showroom or DIY outlet. But most interestingly, around 9 in 10 of the same consumer audience claim to use online reviews to determine whether a product is actually suitable for purchase; 50% indicate they undertake these checks regularly. Additional evidence suggests that as well as influencing product choice, effective online reviews can also influence consumer decisions regarding which outlet to purchase their bathroom products from.

So, despite not offering online sales capabilities, it is important for retail outlets to manage their online footprint and share with prospective customers the experiences of their existing customers. This applies across the board from product purchases to buying services and experiences. All businesses should be aware of the power of the review!

by Richard Mace, Associate Director


This entry was tagged Communication and posted on March 2, 2015

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