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The Evolution of Ecommerce: Introducing Cohley’s ‘Voice of the Shopper’ Offering

The digital age has redefined countless aspects of business, none more significantly than ecommerce. As brands scramble to cater to the digital consumer and optimize their presences on the digital shelf, the overall landscape and the challenges that brands are facing have rapidly evolved. But far too many brands remain tethered to antiquated practices that are totally misaligned with today’s consumer expectations. 

Cohley’s ‘Voice of the Shopper’ offering provides brands with the comprehensive strategy and content they need to stay on top of this massive shift in consumer behavior. More specifically, we’re giving brands the product reviews, testimonial videos, strategic insights and strategy that our clients need to win across their owned and retail channels by creating and maintaining lively product pages that drive results. 

The “Old Way” 

In the past, the formula for a “successful” product launch was simple: introduce a new SKU, slap a handful of reviews and product focused images on the product page, and leave it to simmer in the vast pot of online offerings. If that approach sounds rather passive, that’s because it was. At a time when ecommerce was just a blip on the radar, such practices went largely unnoticed.

But the world is different now. The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped countless aspects of our lives, including irrevocably altering consumers' purchasing behaviors. The result? Aggregate ecommerce spend has increased by a whopping 55% from the start of the pandemic, by many estimates accelerating the shift to ecommerce by 5 years.

Brands that had relegated ecommerce to the periphery found themselves scrambling for a viable strategy. And those that stuck to the old playbook? They’ve found their SKUs growing increasingly stale, resulting in sinking search ranks and plummeting conversion rates.

Ecommerce is…Commerce

On the subject of outdated ways of approaching digital commerce, concerns around ecommerce cannibalizing brands’ brick & mortar sales are quickly evaporating. Forrester estimates that digital-influenced retail sales will increase from 60% in 2022 to 70% in 2027. While shopping in-store, 69% of consumers prefer to look up product reviews on their smartphones instead of speaking to a store associate, and 84% of consumers look at ratings and reviews when considering in-store purchases. 

In the boardrooms of yesteryears, ecommerce performance was an afterthought. Today, it's front and center, driving discussions and strategic decisions. Nike’s online sales have increased from 10% of the company’s total sales in 2019 to 26% YTD in 2023 - a 260% increase. Walmart’s online sales have continued their meteoric rise, with recent figures showing 100% year over year growth. Ecommerce has very much taken center stage, and we’re excited to help brands shine in the spotlight. 

It’s never been more important to capture the experiences of real consumers and give would-be buyers the information and confidence they need to make a purchase. Our perspective on the space led us to develop and invest heavily in our ‘Voice of the Shopper’ offering.

The “New Way” 

Cohley quickly recognized that to help brands thrive in this new era, we needed to provide brands with strategic guidance and corresponding content to ensure that their online brand-owned and retailer SKUs were healthy and thriving. Their product pages needed to be tended to and nurtured like the living, breathing organisms that they are.

The ‘Voice of the Shopper’ isn’t just about ratings and reviews; it’s about authentic narratives and genuine stories that resonate with potential buyers. Today’s discerning consumers don’t just want to buy products; they want to invest in stories they can relate to, stories that affirm their buying decisions and help them make those decisions quickly. 70% of consumers bail on online purchases due to poor content. On the flip side, consumers who interact with online ratings and reviews convert at 108% the rate of those who don’t. 

Our strategy is focused around the ongoing refreshment of product reviews, the importance of maintaining respectable star ratings across a brand’s product pages, and the inclusion of testimonial videos and photos that provide a transparent, authentic glimpse into the product.

The strategy works because brands are no longer the ones delivering the messaging that’s driving results - today, it’s consumers that are selling other consumers. It’s the antithesis to the cookie-cutter, static SKUs of the past.

By designing the offering around real consumer voices, we’re able to help our clients capture the dynamic, evolving narrative that surrounds a product, facilitating an ongoing dialogue between brands and their consumers. The data supporting our ‘Voice of the Shopper’ offering is staggering: when video testimonials and photos are placed on a product page, there’s an average increase of 114% in conversion rates and 2-3x sales lift in-store. When text ratings and reviews are optimized, including having sufficient amounts of reviews, recent reviews, and minimum ratings at or above 4.2 stars, on average brands’ see a 103% bump in online sales lift. 

Our strategy is focused around the ongoing refreshment of product reviews, the importance of maintaining respectable star ratings across a brand’s product pages, and the inclusion of testimonial videos and photos that provide a transparent, authentic glimpse into the product.

I'm immensely proud of the strides we've made with our 'Voice of the Shopper' offering. Not because it's innovative, but because it screams and celebrates authenticity in an age inundated with digital noise and bland, gray brand messaging. 

The future of Ecommerce is here, and it's personal, authentic, and ever-evolving. At Cohley, we're thrilled to be leading the charge, championing the voices that truly matter - the voices of real consumers.