When you’re shopping online it doesn’t matter what the size of your purchase is, chances are you will find yourself drawn to read the product reviews left by previous customers.
They can help you make a more informed decision as to whether the product is right for you and how good the retailer is.
Depending on which source you look at, the increase in sales that a website can potentially see varies, but the general consensus of opinion is that including reviews on your online shop increases customer confidence and ultimately converts more sales.
Still not convinced? Take a look around at the major players in ecommerce and you’ll be hard pushed to find one that does not include gathering and displaying customer reviews. It can be easy to get yourself into a ‘catch 22’ frame of mind. How do you get reviews if you’re not getting the sales? How do you get sales if you have no reviews?
I’m not saying that you MUST have customer reviews to get sales on your ecommerce site. However, by including reviews on your product pages you are giving yourself a better chance of convincing the customer to buy from you.
Many ecommerce systems have basic customer review management already built into them. Depending on the system that you’re using, you may be able to extend its features via extra add-ons. You could also look at third-party review systems such as eKomi, or there’s TrustPilot which acts more as a community of reviewers. With these services you can include aspects of your reviews on social media, and your overall star rating can be included on Google listings.
No-one particularly likes to be criticised and there can be a great temptation not to open up your site to accepting customer reviews for fear of what comments might be left. If you are confident in the products that you sell and the customer service that you provide, then that should not be a concern.
You may also think to yourself, “Ok, I’ll open up to reviews, but I’ll remove any that aren’t positive.”
This is a bad idea. Negative reviews can actually be an opportunity to engage with your customers.
By responding to negative reviews and being seen to try to resolve issues in public, this can show how good your customer service is. You are also showing that you are open and honest and do not wish to hide anything. If a dissatisfied customer feels that their review has been deliberately omitted, they may take their comments to social media such as Twitter, which you don’t want.
Most of the time customers won’t be in a position to critique your products or services until after they have left your website. Therefore, you need a way of encouraging them to come back and leave feedback. You could look at automating this process by getting your ecommerce system to send a review request to customers a week or so after they’ve received their order.
Never be tempted to add fake reviews yourself or get others to do it for you. This practice can come back and bite you as it is likely to be illegal under consumer protection regulations, and could be subject to investigation by Trading Standards or the Office of Fair Trading.
In the end it all comes down to trust. Customers will only buy from you if they trust you. The tools are there for you to instil that in them – it’s up to you if you use them. Just ask yourself this, though – would you prefer to buy from a site with no reviews or one with plenty of customer feedback?
Andrew McEwan of The Web Workshop in Morebattle (www.thewebworkshop.net) helps businesses in the Scottish Borders and beyond with their online presence and digital marketing.