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Customer reviews are changing the way fashion is sold

Rebecca Thomson

Retailers are starting to reap the benefits of customer reviews. Our new Drapers Guide explores why.. 

When online customer reviews were first introduced back in the 1990s, most retailers thought they were a terrible idea. The notion of allowing negative feedback to be freely available right next to the product you are trying to sell felt, at the very least, counter-intuitive.

But reviews are a textbook example of an online feature that in theory feels like madness, but in reality, perfectly solves a problem. In our new Drapers Guide, we unpack this: why are reviews so useful, how are retailers using them today, how are they changing and where might they go in the future? 

Fashion retailers might feel as though reviews are less relevant to them than for other categories. Fashion is a subjective purchase: a fashion product can’t “work” or “not work”, as it can in kitchenware or electronics. Neither have reviews become as central to fashion’s business model as they have in travel, for instance, where they can play a significant role in a consumer’s research process.

But they are, nonetheless, becoming more important in fashion. First, as an increasingly crucial indicator of fit – for retailers such as Boden, for example, reviews on each product mean consumers are speaking to each other about how each piece sits, how it feels and what they think of the quality. For consumers who are on the fence about buying, this can act both as reassurance and as inspiration. Not only does it assist the purchase process, it can help to build loyalty with the brand, and community among shoppers.

Plus, reviews are evolving. For retailers such as Farfetch, reviews are gathered not to give feedback on products, but on service and brand – and as a result they provide a fascinating source of insight on how the business can develop. They are also being used by customers as an indicator of whether they can trust a brand. 

Online shopping today is a noisy business and businesses need to do everything they can to stand out. Reviews can help overwhelmed, jaded shoppers cut through the noise, and find the brands that are backing their claims with high-quality product and great service.

Our Guide to Customer Reviews delves into how reviews in fashion are evolving, covering why fashion brands should care about them, and what they can do for the business. We also speak to brands who are already making the most of them. You can download it here.

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