Watch yourself the next time you’re shopping online. You’re almost certainly reading the customer reviews from other buyers of the product you’re looking for before you make your buying decision, and with research showing that 61% of customer read online customer reviews before making a purchase, and 63% are more likely to buy from a site that offers reviews, if you have an e-commerce website, and you’re not offering reviews, you’re almost certainly letting some savvy shoppers slip through the net.
Today’s Times headling reads ‘Savvy Shoppers Weigh Their Options’, and although you need to be subscribed to The Times in order to read this, the gist of it is that we’re making fewer impulse buys, dithering before we decide, and taking time to read what other’s have to say before we click on ‘buy now’.
One of the problems of reviews is that there is a black hole of fake reviews which have been written to order. Read The Guardian, on ‘Fake Reviews Plague Consumer Websites’ which may of course put you off the whole review issue altogether.
However there is a middle line, of real customer reviews, independently written by customer who have actually bought the product. Many e-commerce companies steer away from these because a) they are not free, and b) they will be honest reviews, negative or positive, and who wants to publish a negative review?
Well actually you do. Showing negative reviews when you have the opportunity to show how you have dealt with problems, swiftly and effectively, can be far more profitable than trying to sweep problems under the carpet.
5 Tips to Catching the Savvy Shopper using Customer Reviews
1. Use an independent customer feedback system such as Feefo or eKomi, where an email is generated and sent to the customer post purchase requesting a review. Only those who have purchased may review the product and their experience.
2. Make it obvious on your home page that you are showing customer reviews. More and more shoppers like transparency and the ability to see what others have said. They’re doing it on Facebook and Twitter so let them start with your products on your website.
3. Show your customer reviews on each product page or link to them there, both good and bad reviews. Prospective customers want to get at the truth. They are not going to trust a 100% five star rating. Would you?
4. Make it easy for your customers to review your products by making your questions short and sweet – don’t ask for an essay, but give them the opportunity to write one if they so wish (within reason).
5. Deal with any problems within reviews openly and quickly – you’re more likely to profit from problems and turn customers into advocates by making it obvious how much you care about your customer service. Never allow a negative review to go un-answered.
As we shop more an more online those e-commerce websites not publishing customer reviews will fall further and further behind.
We want to shop from trustworthy retailers, and not all will be household names. Publishing customer reviews encourages a more level playing field by encouraging trust, and shows that you care about your customers and react swiftly to problems.