Heading to the high street this Black Friday? Don’t be fooled by festive fakes

By Simon Coughlin, Senior Account Director

Black Friday is upon us.

The day when thousands of bargain hungry shoppers rush to the high street to snap up some pre-Christmas goodies. Or do they?

Recent research by one of our clients has found that more than three-quarters of UK consumers plan to avoid stores on Black Friday this year.

The prospect of shoppers not hitting the high streets and retail parks reinforces the importance of retailers investing in their online platform, helping them to fight back against the dominance of brands like Amazon.

One way that omnichannel retailers can boost total revenues is by harnessing the power of customer reviews.

New research from our client Feefo suggests that many people heading to the high street over the festive period will be relying on customer feedback before making a purchase. A massive 94% of consumers who are considering buying a product or service will check online reviews.

Furthermore, genuine reviews have now replaced friends or family as the most reliable source of information – 84% of consumers say feedback from real customers is the biggest influence on them, whereas only 52% now depend mostly on the recommendations of friends and family.

While it’s clear that brands which invest in platforms to gather customer feedback can reap the rewards, shoppers are increasingly aware of fake reviews.

The internet is flooded with them, with many people profiting by selling fake, positive reviews on open review platforms which allow anyone to create a profile and leave feedback.

Consumers can also be misled by endorsements on platforms like Instagram. The photo and video-sharing site has enabled many online influencers to earn a living by being paid to market products. However, this week the company announced that it’s cracking down on fake likes and comments by using tools which can identify accounts that use third-party services and apps to artificially boost their popularity.

So how can retailers tackle the fake reviews which risk their own reputation?

One way is by choosing a reviews platform which ensures only genuine customers are invited to review. Not only should reviewers be required to have a verified email address, there should ideally be a transaction linking the review to the reviewer.

Finally, if you’re heading out among the crowds this Black Friday, or like me prefer to snap-up a bargain online, you’d be wise to consider whether the glowing online review you’re reading is genuine, or a festive fake.