More than a quarter of retailers have seen an increase in the volume of goods being returned over the last two years. New research from Fresh Relevance has shown that leveraging more user-generated content (UGC) helps shoppers choose the right product and could help retailers combat high return volumes. Almost one third (29%) of UK consumers find product photos from other customers useful when making an online purchase decision, yet very few retailers incorporate this into product list pages and cart abandonment emails.
The study combines consumer research conducted by One Poll, as well as analysis of the social proof tactics undertaken by 50 leading UK retailers. It highlights that 29% of consumers prefer to see a product as it is worn or used by real people as opposed to photoshopped product images. The tactic resonates in particular with younger consumers, with 40% of Generation Z and 41% of Millennials finding photos from other customers valuable when making a purchase decision.
Despite the role that UGC plays in a shopper’s purchase decision, only 16% of the retailers surveyed offer it on their website. Usage in emails is very low, with just 2% of retail brands showing UGC in newsletters and 0% in shopping recovery emails.
Adoption of UGC also varies by retail sector:
- 0% of jewellery and accessories brands have adopted UGC within marketing strategies
- Just 10% of footwear brands are sharing imagery from other customers
- 20% of fashion retailers are incorporating this type of content
- Beauty and electronics are the best performing sectors in using UGC, with 30% of brands leveraging customer photos
Mike Austin, CEO & Co-Founder of Fresh Relevance, commented: “In a social media driven world, user-generated content is a highly powerful social proof tactic to help build community, trust and conversions. For online shoppers who aren’t able to touch a product, imagery from other customers is an effective way to help them to get a better feel for what the item will be like in real life. Despite this, it’s a tactic that many retailers are still failing to incorporate within their marketing and are missing sales opportunities as a result.
“Unlike using celebrity endorsers or influencers, it’s a much more cost-effective and scalable way to bring a product to life. Most brands have access to a wealth of UGC shared by their customers and this authentic content can be pulled into websites and emails in real-time to add relevant product information. For brands in the jewellery, footwear and fashion sectors in particular, where shoppers often wish to try on items, there is an even greater need to use UGC to give consumers the confidence that they are purchasing a product that’s right for them. With retailers seeing a sharp rise in the volume of returns being made, providing shoppers with examples on how the product is worn or used by real people can help reduce the amount of purchases being taken back.”
In summary, consumers build trust through user-generated content. Helping to accurately demonstrate products, imagery taken by customers can work to grow trust and reduce the volume of goods being returned.