TECHNOLOGY

Amazon program trades merchandise for customer reviews—as long as they are honest

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon wants shoppers to test merchandise and then share their unbiased opinion.

Amazon Vine is an invitation-only program that provides members with free products in exchange for their honest reviews. The merchandise is provided by participating vendors.

The program was created to provide customers with more details, and help them to make more informed purchase decisions. Participating companies — as well as Amazon — do not influence, modify or edit the reviews, according to the company’s website.

Members, who are called Vine Voices, are chosen based on their reviewer rank, which includes how helpful shoppers rate their reviews, as well as their demonstrated interest in the types of products that are featured in the program. More weight is given to recent reviews, and negative reviews do not impact a reviewer ranking, according to Amazon.

Vine Program reviews are identified on Amazon’s site with a green stripe. In addition to limiting the total number of Vine reviews displayed for each product, the program also features controls that will publish early reviews for new products that have been unable to generate enough organic reviews, an Amazon spokesperson said in a Business Insider report.

“We want the Voice program to reflect the best of our growing body of customer reviewers,” the site reported. “Customers tend to value substantive, informative, detailed and objective reviews, regardless of whether the review is positive, negative, or neutral.”

Despite suppliers issuing merchandise for review, Vine Voices members are not compensated for participating or writing reviews. Other rules include that contributors cannot manipulate content or features, are share false, misleading, or inauthentic content, according to Amazon’s guidelines.

 

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Gap CEO: Big data gives us competitive advantages

BY CSA Staff

Gap Inc. is not underestimating the value of its big data.

The company’s same-store sales are on rise, which the company partially credits to the customer data it collects to create personalized marketing campaigns, according to CNBC.

In an interview with Jim Cramer on “Mad Money,” Gap’s president and CEO Art Peck said, “We’ve really been building back-end big data analytic capabilities now for a couple of years, and data is a huge asset for us.”

In addition to evaluating their lifetime value, Gap is using customer data to understand who their most valuable customers are. “Structurally, because we have multiple brands and multi-channels, we’ve got something not a lot of other apparel companies have,” he added in the interview.

To hear more, click here.

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Brands underestimate the value of social advocacy, personalization

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

There is an increasing gap between retailers’ marketing methods, and the campaigns that realistically drive consumers’ purchase decisions.

In addition to wanting more personalized experiences, consumers want to discover brands and affirm purchase decisions through social influencers, according to “Retail 2018: The Loyalty Divide,” a report from Oracle.

According to the data, 69% of respondents note personalized offers based on preferences are appealing, while 66% find personalized offers based on purchase history as appealing. Fifty-eight percent of consumers said personalized content and communications are appealing.

Consumers also indicated that retailers must have a strong social presence, and want to use social influencers when discovering new brands and affirming purchases. For example, 53% are likely to research brands on social media before buying, and 46% are likely to save ideas on social media about products or retailers.

Forty-three percent are likely to share photos of retail experiences/products on social media, and are likely to follow influencers that post about favorite retail brands, respectively.

Consumers also believe in the integrity of social influencers, as 41% of consumers agree that YouTube reviews are more trustworthy than branded advertising or communications, and 37% of consumers believe that retailers used and recommended by social media influencers are more trustworthy than those recommended by celebrities.

Despite this trend, 28% of retailers will only take into account measures of loyalty based on activities such as loyalty card membership or transaction frequency, the study revealed.

“The future of loyalty will be a balancing act between consumers desire for more anonymity, or at least direct control of their data, and an expectation for meaningful personalization that is targeted and timely,” said Mike Webster, senior VP and general manager, Oracle retail and hospitality. “We believe the answer is a new approach to segmentation that integrates advanced algorithms and machine learning into the retail business process that govern planning, inventory and pricing.”

There is less of a gap when it comes to using artificial intelligence (AI). Only 26% of consumers find AI on a mobile device that gets to know the user through voice recognition and then makes intelligent recommendations as unappealing compared to 91% of retailers that think this would be appealing to consumers.

Other findings include:

• 91% of consumers note it is appealing to accept or reject offers so that the retailer loyalty program can learn what products and offers are of most interest.

• 86% of consumers note that it is appealing when a retailer’s staff and customer support uses their personal preferences to provide better service.

• 52% of retailers think consumers are concerned about data being passed onto third parties, yet 81% of consumers would consider removing their personal information if they could. Meanwhile, 53% are concerned that their data is being passed onto third parties.

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