Beauty products may provide a highly physical experience, but consumers are increasingly buying cosmetics online, instead of in brick-and-mortar stores. In 2015, one consultancy group estimated e-commerce sales made up six to eight percent of beauty sales—up from four to five percent in previous years.
But sellers in the beauty industry face a challenge: convincing customers to buy products without getting to sit down in front of a mirror and test them first. How can online brands boost customer confidence to drive conversions and continued loyalty?
Consider the power of customer reviews in cosmetics e-commerce. After all, the next best thing to trying a product yourself is basing an informed decision on others’ honest opinions.
Social Proof as a Powerful Influencer
Customer reviews tap into a psychological concept called social proof, wherein humans naturally gravitate toward what others do and say. It’s especially relevant in ambiguous situations. In other words, if people can’t test products for themselves, they’ll look at ratings and reviews from others when they’re deciding whether or not to buy a given product from your e-commerce store.
Positive reviews are obviously better than negative ones, but the fact there are reviews at all is a persuasive factor in turning visitors into customers. Whether shoppers realize it or not, they naturally take into account others’ experiences and opinions as they browse. When you’re setting up your website to sell cosmetics from home, it’s important to incorporate product reviews in the form of numerical ratings (like stars) and user-written content.
In order to attain these reviews, brands must devise a method for surveying customers in a non-intrusive manner so they’re willing to offer up their input about your website’s user experience and/or products they purchased. The longer you wait between a transaction and asking customers for feedback, the less likely they are to engage. Timely is always best when it comes to encouraging customers to leave an honest review of your web store.
Part of what makes social proof so powerful is its ability to ease purchase anxiety. As you can imagine, buying products sight unseen online gives consumers greater purchase anxiety than buying a tried-and-true product from a store. Anything your online store can do to soothe some of this anxiety will pay off in the form of increased conversions and repeat customers. The hardest part is getting shoppers to take the plunge in the first place, but the presence of reviews from previous buyers helps empower them to make a decision.
Shoppers Expect Honest Insights
Besides psychological persuasion, shoppers simply expect to have easy access to any information they seek at their fingertips these days. As NBC News writes, “Plus, our brains are now trained to get information from the Internet. We can quickly click off the sponsored post and onto another page to read product reviews or other insights about a certain product or brand.”
The absence of reviews is actually a red flag these days—it communicates to customers your store is either hiding something, or is simply unpopular. This may be enough to push them right into the arms of the first competitor who can offer up solid social proof of people actually buying and respecting their cosmetics lineup.
Underestimating the power of customer reviews in cosmetics ecommerce is dangerous. Humans are social by nature; they will always look to others for insights, approval and criticisms before deciding to buy something for the first time. As a savvy beauty brand, you can anticipate this, solicit honest reviews from your customers and post them in highly visible positions on your website.