Reviews online are the social proof that persuade or dissuade people from buying from you. Because they are unbiased and reflect the direct sentiments of the users, when used strategically, they can actually become powerful tools that can encourage other shoppers to go with your brand. This is an instrument that online retailers must pay attention to because nearly a third of shoppers shopping either online or at brick-and-mortars consult online reviews to make purchasing decisions. That is a huge number.
Stores tend to be afraid of reviews because they have no measurable control over this bit of content associated with their brands. Good reviews are always welcome, but bad reviews can be discouraging. However, reviews aren’t dismaying when handled right. They are great in a lot of ways. How you respond to positive and negative reviews will convey your attitude towards your customers, and will determine whether they are going to forgive you and continue to patronise your store or leave with a vengeful vendetta.
But before we get into that, let’s first look at the stats that confirm the importance of online reviews to businesses.
- 63% of the people are more likely to buy from a store that displays product ratings and reviews. For one, it reflects the store’s confidence in its products.
- Over half the consumers get as many detailed reviews before they trust your company.
- More than three quarters of the shoppers treat product reviews like personal recommendations. If the reviews vouch for it, they will seriously consider it.
- Haven’t you yourself changed your mind about a product after chancing upon a negative review? Well that’s 80% of the rest of the consumers as well.
- Reviews make people confident in their choices. It lets them know someone else has been there and benefited, so they must benefit, too. Or that someone else has been there and were conned and that they don’t want to be that person.
So if your customers depend on this, then naturally it becomes your job to ensure it works to your advantage.
Benefits of online reviews for retailers:
- You get the opportunity to change how customers perceive you. You can build your reputation with good reviews. You can take action on their complaints – rectifying a flaw in the product, being reliable, owning to a mistake and doing something about it. This will show them that you care, and will help build their trust – the most important factor to keep repeat customers in the cycle.
- Online reviews are unbiased and still personal. So they provide first-hand information on the product, its function and design, and it gives a shopper insight into how it performed in an actual situation. When a shopper can imagine this in their own lives, it helps them understand the product better and also eliminates common redundant questions that would otherwise come to you through customer support enquiries.
- Trust indicators are supremely important for all retailers, but more so with smaller fry as their brand names may not be as well established as their bigger counterparts. Moreover, with the abounding number of phishing scams, malware and such, online shoppers are quite wary of online brands. Comments and feedback from customers can help assuage their fears. It works like a trust certification.
How to generate reviews:
So you know reviews are good for your other patrons as well as for you. But how to you encourage people to take a moment to give their comments or rating?
- Ask them to grade you immediately. As soon as they make a purchase or right after it has been delivered, ask them to rate the shopping experience they had with your brand online, the delivery experience, and if they have had the chance, the product experience. This could be done on the website, after generating the bill or at the thank you page.
- E-mails are obviously great for this. Apart from being a marketing tool, they are meant to encourage people to become a part of your community. You could use an e-mail sent about a week or two after the delivery of the product, so it gives the user some time to have used the product and form an opinion about it. Ensure the e-mail is friendly and not demanding.
- There are enough people out there who would like to leave a review either because they loved it or had a bad experience with it. Either ways, when you send them an e-mail or link to leave their comments, it makes it easier for them to do this without having to go looking for your feedback page. If it isn’t easy, they aren’t going to bother with it. You could use a simple 5 star rating method with a space for feedback below. Naturally you want registered members to give you reviews so you can track the source and be assured it isn’t a prankster’s work, but making registering easy. Or use e-mails so that you can track the review to the e-mail id and know it was a valid shopper.
- You could surprise them with an incentive for leaving their valuable comments, e.g. a small discount or coupon, or even something financially viable for you, like a sneak-peek to your new season’s collection.
- As mentioned earlier, e-mails are the tools vouched for for this particular task as they allow you to track and follow up with customers. Moreover, with e-mails you only need to set-up once and can automate the entire process. Some of the better e-mail marketing tools are MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and Yotpo.
So there you have it! Online reviews, what they do for your site visitors, what they do for you, and how you can leverage it to your advantage whilst also building trust in your shoppers!