Black Friday 2022: The make-or-break problem for Australian retailers

Black Friday 2022: The make-or-break problem for Australian retailers

Google Reviews can make a huge difference to a retail business’ success on Black Friday. (Source: Reuters)

Discounts aren’t the first thing Australians look for when choosing a store to shop at as Black Friday approaches, according to a new study.

While many retailers will be offering stunning bargains during the popular sales event and holiday shopping season, many Aussies will be looking to Google Reviews before stepping into a store or completing an online purchase, researching data from communications and payments platform Podium has uncovered.

The study found that up to 84 percent of Aussies were influenced when choosing a business by Google Reviews, with most aiming for a minimum 3.5 star rating.

The data also showed that more than a quarter of Australians (28 percent) would read a business’ reviews before even deciding to enter a store, making Google Reviews one of the most powerful forms of free advertising today.

“Essential” Google Reviews

While it used to be a “nice to have,” Google Reviews has become indispensable in today’s world, explained Dave Scheine, Country Manager of Podium Australia.

“Word of mouth has always been the lifeblood of small businesses, but in today’s digital world, it exists online,” said Scheine Yahoo Finance.

“For consumers, reviews are relatable and authentic, and have a real impact on their decision on which businesses they want to deal with — whether it’s a retailer, a mechanic, a restaurant, a dentist, or something else entirely. Consumers rely heavily on online reviews to discover businesses, so it’s no stretch to say that businesses that rely solely on foot traffic and physical locations risk being left behind.

“If a consumer can’t find a business online, or they can, but their reviews aren’t compelling, they’ll look for a competitor,” Scheine said, adding that with Black Friday and the upcoming peak retail season approaching, competition is intense could be.

Companies that have optimized their Google ratings are better positioned to be successful, Scheine continued.

Saleswoman in the clothing store

Research shows that more than a quarter of Australians read a retail store’s reviews before deciding to enter. (Source: Reuters)

“Google reviews are an important factor for SEO [search engine optimisation]making businesses searchable online,” he said.

“When a consumer searches for ‘guitar shop near me’ or ‘bookstore in Brisbane’, those with great Google reviews rank far higher than those without. The key for local retailers is to provide an exceptional customer experience and then encourage and encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews.

“For local retailers, it’s about proactively encouraging satisfied customers to leave reviews instead of sitting back and hoping.”

Scheine continued, “The sense of ‘local support’ is strong and inspiring in Australia, but through our research we’re definitely seeing a trend for consumers to prioritize those who – through reviews – show how they’ve had exceptional experiences for their peers .”

Importance for business success

According to Podium, more than half (51%) of Australians said a business’s response to reviews changed their perspective, while 44% would travel further and pay more to visit a business with better reviews. As many as 69 percent said they would give a one-star review because of hiring an employee.

However, less than half of the companies (45 percent) considered online reviews to be “very important” to their business success.

Ryan Lamb, manager of guitar shop Acoustic Center in South Melbourne, confirms the impact good reviews can have on a business.

Acoustic Center, which has more than 1,100 Google reviews, has an average rating of 4.9 stars.

“Our customers are our whole business,” Lamb said Yahoo Finance.

“We’re a specialist music store, but we’re not just about selling guitars, we’re about building relationships and a shared love of music. We want every interaction with every customer to be meaningful and personal, but also convenient and easy. What is important to our customers is important to us – this is reflected in our reviews today.

“We understand how consumers are changing and while having a physical location is still so valuable, online presence is just as important. We chose to channel our industry-leading products and customer experiences into the pursuit of more Google Reviews. Our community has exploded since we started proactively requesting reviews at the end of a sale, and we’ve seen an increase in the number of customers, the number of reviews, and the number of good reviews.

Lamb said it had a huge impact on bonding and loyalty.

“We’ve had a lot of first-time customers during the pandemic, and now they’re playing their third or fourth guitar with us,” he said.

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