Social Proof And Responsible Retailing: Helping Online Shoppers Make Informed Buying Decisions

A news article was published this week in a major UK media title suggesting that retailers are “using scare tactics and fibs” to encourage online shoppers to make impulse purchases.  Taggstar pioneered social proof messaging in 2013, and we are passionate about the transparency and integrity of what we do.  The retailers we work with trust us to deliver real-time, factually correct, error-free messages to their online customers, who can use this information to make informed buying decisions and shop with confidence.

This year has seen a massive shift to online. Millions of people are using ecommerce for the very first time.  According to eMarketer, this year, only China will trump the UK in eCommerce sales as a proportion of total retail sales (41.2% versus 30.9%, respectively). Retailers of course want to give these new digital consumers the best possible online experience. 

Social proof messaging is like a virtual sales associate. Messages provide answers to the questions you’d ask an associate in the bricks and mortar store, such as ‘how many of a particular item are in stock?’ or, ‘what’s the bestseller in this range?’. 

Messages also share information that you’d be able to see for yourself in the store – what products other people are looking at, and what they’ve put in their cart – and also  aggregate and display product reviews and customer ratings. All this information is aimed at helping consumers make better informed buying decisions and choose the most suitable product first time (and reduce the headache of returns).

It works like this. Taggstar’s purpose-built technology mines the retailer’s own data, aggregates that data and displays it as factual messages on websites, apps and other digital channels. 

We verify that all our data sources are factual and accurate, whether using retailers’ data (live website visitors, inventory status and sales) or data from third-party aggregators such as Bazaarvoice. Our algorithm constantly performs data validation to ensure product messages are error-free. We validate by collecting data such as page views, sales, revenue, and number of items ordered and cross check this with the retailers’ own analytics. Our data is accurate to within 5% of the retailer’s data, meaning our messages can never overclaim or mislead.

We also understand the importance of using the right language and tone of voice. We’d steer clear of phrases like ‘you’re missing out’ or ‘buy now’ that might increase pressure on the customer, and work with our retail customers to craft appropriate wording. We tell the story straight: if a product is popular, or stock is running low, we’ll present that as a real-time factual message. Simply saying ‘125 sold in the last 24 hours’ is factual; it gives shoppers relevant contextual information that can help their decision making. 

Right now, retailers want to give online customers a positive digital experience and to make it as easy as possible for them to find and buy what they’re looking for. Real-time social proof messages are a responsible way to help achieve that objective. 

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