Everything is available online. Not only can customers purchase products online, but there is a wealth of other information available to them at the click of the mouse or swipe of their finger. Availability and in-stock updates, pricing and spec information, and product reviews or brand experience reviews are out there for the world to see. Brands that want to succeed will take active measures to monitor and cultivate their online brand reputation.
The Importance of Brand Reputation
What is a brand reputation? Simply put, it’s how customers view the brand. However, there’s so much that goes into an online reputation and that reputation’s management. Brands must be active participants in their online profiles. Customers want to engage and purchase from brands that have a respected and robust presence. As noted in Forbes, many brands already know this as 97 percent of business owners say online reputation management is important.
So, business owners know it’s important, but how does that translate into actionable brand management? Brand reputation can’t be a knee-jerk reaction in a crisis or only providing replies to poor reviews online. Comprehensive and successful brand reputation management goes deeper and develops an authentic relationship with consumers.
Establishing a social media presence beyond sales announcements is a good place to start. Interact with customers and be available to them on a regular basis. Create content that will speak to customers, causing them to engage and share. Of course, you must also address concerns of unhappy customers, but that’s just a small part of the larger brand reputation picture. Monitoring won’t be confined to what’s being said on a brand’s social channels and must take place everywhere the brand is mentioned. Did someone write a review of your product for a blog or post a video review online? What about retail partner websites, what is being said about products there? Brands need to know what is being said and where it’s being said to appropriately respond and engage with their customers.
It’s not enough for brands to monitor their reputation, they must also monitor their competitor’s reputation. Getting the competitive edge of knowing how your brand is viewed in comparison to the competition is a valuable place to gain insights. This allows brands to improve their reputations by adjusting and seizing opportunities to demonstrate how their products stand out. A brand monitoring tool can help scan the web for brand mentions, and it’s worth the investment to easily keep track of a brand’s reputation and competitors.
Protect Your Company and Avoid Violations
Shoppers have become incredibly savvy, often using the internet to pre-shop and price compare. Part of reputation management is ensuring that the pricing of products is consistent across all platforms. This maintains the value of the product and ensures retailers are not violating a brand’s pricing policy.
Price violations occur more regularly than brands might think, with about 23 percent of products seeing violations. However, without close monitoring, brands may never know that their price is being violated. Brands looking to start a comprehensive price monitoring tool, such as MAP Guard, may want to look for the following features:
- Ability to discover all retailers selling products online – sometimes brands aren’t aware of smaller retailers advertising their products.
- Track real-time violations and correspond retailers.
- Show violation trends to understand what products are reduced the most often, determine which retailers violate prices often and those that are the first to reduce the price.
- Notify retailers directly with proof of violation for review.
In the Name of UE: Why User Experience Matters
Technology is an incredibly powerful tool, and that power can be used to bolster online reputation and online reviews. Think through the user experience and how that affects brand reputation online. The easier it is to find information about a product, find the best place to complete a purchase (either online or in-store) and communicate with the brand to resolve any concerns, the more likely it is that a customer will post a positive review. Additionally, it’s important to provide employees with the knowledge, training and tools they need to contribute positively to the overall brand reputation. From sales associates to customer service representatives, every interaction is an opportunity to positively (or negatively) represent the brand.
Reviews contribute quite a bit to brand reputation and are a trusted source of information because they aren’t from the brand, they’re from customers. Shoppers often use reviews to solidify their purchase decisions. The better organized and more simplified and intuitive the user experience is overall, and the more enjoyable it is to interact with a brand, the more likely a customer will be to write a positive review.
For the most effective brand monitoring tools should be implemented – these include tools that make it easy to monitor online reputation, address concerns and interact with both retailers and customers. Brand monitoring software, such as PriceSpider’s Brand Monitor, allows brand teams to gain actionable insights and protect a brand from gaining a poor reputation online.
Where Retail Tech is Headed
As brands forge ahead in the online retail space, technology has become an ever-important piece of the puzzle. Brands must have an online presence, at a minimum, and brands that are going to succeed and have longevity need to be at the top of their online retail game. Online and mobile purchases are continuing to grow, and smart retailers will work to be innovative in addressing consumer demands for convenience, security and personalization.
As we look to the future, Augmented Reality (AR) will become a bigger influence, with some product categories already incorporating AR into their online presence. Furniture retailers, for example, have the capability of allowing customers to see furniture in their current living spaces before purchase and delivery. What an incredible way to make sure customers will be happy with their purchase.
Enhancing the retail experience with AR is an obvious step. Clothing retailers could allow customers to “try on” clothes, shoes, jewelry and more before adding to their shopping carts. How about offering AR capabilities to test drive a car or take a tour of a vacation resort? All of these are possible, and sellers need to embrace the new wave of technology to ensure their brand stays relevant, continues a positive evolution and grows their brand reputation.
Want to learn more about PriceSpider? Contact us today and learn how we can help you.