Adrian Peter Tse
Mar 12, 2015

The digital disruption of retail, and using ‘social proof’ online: Razorfish

SALT LAKE CITY - Where brand attributes were once a shortcut to quality in the mind of consumers, they now have Google search. Jason Goldberg, GVP of commerce strategy at Razorfish, offered forward-thinking advice and examples of commerce making headway to marketers at the Adobe Summit.

Goldberg discussed the digital disruption of retail at the Adobe Summt
Goldberg discussed the digital disruption of retail at the Adobe Summt

“There are 10 smartphones activated for every baby born,” said Goldberg. “Yet there’s a mobile gap. The good news is, it's getting better.”

Partly an analytics and business problem, he believes a major roadblock to mobile-based e-commerce has been “apprehension toward completing business transactions on mobile”.

“Technology like using images to enter payment information and better user experience is easing some of that friction,” he said. “You also won’t be seeing Apple Pay on my slides—it’s a great brick and mortar store app solution but not a web browser.”

On that note, Goldberg noted some other dos and don’ts for mobile commerce sites: 'm-dot' sites are great for getting a mobile experience up and running but are detrimental long-term and should be avoided. Yet responsive design isn’t a good solution for a commerce site either.

“Responsive design is based on resolution, which makes your site load slower,” said Goldberg. “And faster-loading sites correlate to higher sales conversions.”

According to Goldberg, the issue of responsive design has another inherent problem relating to the dilemma of “one size fits all”.

“Do you want to have the same experience when you’re sitting on a couch at home to when you’re in a hurry and have 20 seconds before you’re about to see a teller at a bank?” he asked.


7 fields, reducing the friction of online payments


The solution, he believes, lies with “adaptive or dynamic mobile optimised sites” that have contextual user experience. Looking more broadly at commerce and the role that brand plays in the digital space, Goldberg used the example of purchasing a hard drive.

“If you try to buy a hard drive online, it is not very exciting stuff,” said Goldberg. “In the old way of how people used to shop they’d look at the brand name to get an idea about what to pick because they couldn’t know all the product’s attributes—so they’d take a mental shortcut.”

“Now consumers have ubiquitous information, and that has changed,” said Goldberg. “So for the hard drive, you’d just ask Google ‘what hard drive should I buy?’ and you’d get perfect information and make a selection based on your needs.”


Based on a search people likely chose option B, deemphasising brand influence


The role of 'social proof'

While 'brand' still matters, the more information consumers have, “the less it matters”. According to Goldberg, ‘social proof’ can be a more effective means of psychological persuasion in the digital space.

Giving examples of platforms built on social proof such as Yelp, Goldberg said Amazon has a distinct advantage with its “number of user reviews”, which has led users to search for products directly on Amazon instead of Google.

Social proof can also be a double-edged sword. “Some people don't want to use reviews for whatever reason, and I have to tell them that they don't own every part of the Internet,” said Goldberg. “I take them to sites where people can write reviews however they want, like on forums. It’s never a fun conversation to have with a CMO.”

Other strategies that use social proof include question and answers as well as badges. “Badges have been shown to work when you A/B test them,” he added. User-generated content is yet another tool that reinforces this idea.


Amazon's customer review hall of fame


“For style-based products, user-generated content is especially good,” said Goldberg, referring to Kate Spade and other fashion categories. “There are now three major providers that help you aggregate user-generated content across platforms and media.”

However, most sites have these best practices of social proof on their site and it represents “just a sliver of the overall”, accounting for only “8 per cent of total sales.” As such, Goldberg advises taking the same content “we busted our asses creating” and “taking it offline to target the other 92 per cent”.

Examples of companies doing this include Kate Spade with interactive screens in front of its store; Target, which takes its most popular Pinterest products and puts a Pinterest tag on those products on its shelves.

To put a final perspective on the disruption of digital and retail, Goldberg pointed out that it "was all invented in the last 20 years".

“When I started we were using best practices from dudes 4,000 years old. We were using the playbook of rug and spice merchants,” said Goldberg. “But the change is what makes me excited to come to work.”


Jack Thread's emulates the feeling of a busy store as social proof


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