I saw a disturbing analysis from a new Mary Meeker / Morgan Stanley report on Internet advertising and e-commerce. Not disturbing for Amazon…but disturbing if you’re a retailer that sells products in the same categories as Amazon:

Retail growth, even online retail, is declining. However, the decline is steeper if you are losing market share and customers to Amazon. The Morgan Stanley reports customer satisfaction and recommendations are key drivers to Amazon gaining market share. I just heard Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, present and talk about how their focus on customer service (and they have a lot of reviews) has driven their sales to $1B.

Show this graph to your CEO, CMO and CFO if you’re having a difficult time getting buy-in to social commerce initiatives. Every day you are not capturing your customer’s voice is a day that you are not building a marketing asset and annuity that pays off, as evidenced by this graph of Amazon capturing UGC for 12 years. NOW is the time to begin or accelerate your use of social commerce to attract and retain customers.

ForeSee Results annual retail study suggests that sites with reviews garner 21% increase in customer satisfaction vs. sites that don’t. The use of the data and content are driving retailers to improve product selection and merchandising, and to reach out to dissatisfied customers. And this user-generated content is driving real top-line and bottom-line numbers — natural search, conversion, AOV, lower returns, and many other financial benefits. See the case studies; see the stats and research.

Amazon has been featuring reviews for 12 years, but now many of our clients are embracing social commerce and we’re helping them accelerate the impact of their customer voices to compete effectively. Because of our focus, as a partner we can deliver a superior user-generated content experience for contributors and visitors….faster moderation turnaround, more robust functionality, flexible integration with your partners, alerts/analytics, and best practices to drive contribution and marketing through our dedicated community managers. Plus, we go beyond reviews and help you change your culture, bringing customer oxygen across the functions of your organization.

Amazon is a great company. The impact of UGC and Social Commerce for them has been under-reported. It has been their best kept secret. No more. We’ve been at this for three years now with nearly 300 clients as of today. We passionately believe that the future of online shopping is here through customer contribution and leveraging influentials. Reviews are table stakes of retailers (those aren’t our words), and there are other UGC applications (such as Ask & Answer and Stories) to take the impact of customer contribution to a new level.

Maintaining growth includes not losing market share. Your best customers are the ones you keep. Get them involved in writing and reading the most compelling content you can have on your site — the content that doesn’t come from you!

I apologize if this comes across as “selling,” but as a former retailer myself, I firmly and passionately believe this is something that deserves urgency and acceleration. The studies, results, ROI, and now the macro analysis of market share shown above reinforce my conviction that if I were in your shoes, I’d get the organization focused on Social Commerce to retain (and grow) your market share.

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