Customer Reviews Continue to Gain Importance for Online Retailers

Online retailers are beginning to understand the importance of consumer reviews.  Allowing shoppers to add their own reviews of products is a growing trend and one that will likely continue to be pervasive.  According to a recent Nielsen study, 70% of shoppers said they trust consumer opinions posted on retail web sites. 

In order to motivate shoppers to contribute reviews, some retailers are experimenting with rewarding contributors with small incentives, such as sneak peeks or advance notices.  Other retailers are incorporating social media such as Facebook or Twitter, allowing consumes to shift from casual user to active contributors.

Turning online shoppers into a community

Retail consultants offer these four practical tips for retailers wanting to turn their browsers and buyers into generators of content:

1. Just ask. Go through product registration cards and invite people, especially those with multiple purchases in a single category and those who have shopped online in the last six months. Among that group, home in on store credit cardholders first, inviting them to join an "advisor's circle" to kick-​start the community pages.

2. Offer an incentive. Manufacturers and brands could potentially foot part of the bill for this.

3. Use data mining to determine which products already have online reviews (on the manufacturer, brand and/​or distributor web sites). With proper permission and attribution, port those reviews over to get the flow of content started.

4. Enhance contributor profile pages, without revealing personal information, so that browsers are attracted to reviewers with similar interests. For example, a review of a dishwasher might resonate with parents if the reviewer is designated as "Mother of three, two of whom are infants with lots of bottles to rinse."

"Four ways to get online shoppers to contribute review," Retail Customer Experience; Bickers, James.  January 6, 2010.