Practical Ecommerce

Customer Reviews Can Sell Your Products

There is a benefit to shopping on Amazon: customer reviews. They play a big role in helping consumers choose products. They also help Amazon with closing sales. That’s why Amazon sends reminders, encouraging customers to provide feedback, right down to the packaging used for shipping products.

While hordes of positive reviews don’t always mean you’ll be completely thrilled with your purchase, they are good indicator of which products to buy. A lack of customer reviews typically tells shoppers one of two things.

  • The store doesn’t sell enough to receive reviews.
  • The business isn’t confident enough to allow customers to review products.

An abundance of positive reviews, mixed with little-to-no negative ones, raises red flags as well. Is the merchant moderating reviews and purposefully disapproving every negative one?

Reviews matter. And every online store needs them. Customer reviews answer questions that are never considered in product descriptions, promotional videos, and features lists. The more in-depth the reviews are, the better.

Reviews not only help instill confidence, but they answer the most-asked question about products that are priced competitively: Are they cheaply made, or just less expensive?

Bluetooth keyboards for smartphones and tablets typically run $60 or more in local stores. Reviews on this $25 one convey that it’s a bargain and not a dud. Source: Amazon.

Bluetooth keyboards for smartphones and tablets typically run $60 or more in local stores. Reviews on this $25 one convey that it’s a bargain and not a dud. Source: Amazon.

It’s about More Than Ratings

Online shoppers are getting savvier about making buying decisions. Seasoned shoppers don’t just look at the rating of a product (i.e., the number of stars it has received). Reviews paint a more detailed picture.

For example, a Hohner Blues Band harmonica on Amazon has 4.5 stars. The reviews, however, explain that while it’s good for what it is, the item is a low-end instrument. In short, it’s good for beginners, but it wouldn’t be the best gift for a friend who plays in a real band.

Reviews tell shoppers if a product is worth purchasing for their specific needs. Source: Amazon.

Reviews tell shoppers if a product is worth purchasing for their specific needs. Source: Amazon.

Adagio, the tea retailer, relies heavily on reviews. And shoppers spend a great deal of time reading them. It’s a prime example of how product reviews are part of the overall description.

Adagio customers don’t just describe the tea; they explain how they steep it, and give tips on adding flavors. Such reviews help convert shoppers.

Adagio customers don’t just describe the tea; they explain how they steep it, and give tips on adding flavors. Such reviews help convert shoppers.

Getting Products Reviewed

The best way to get customers to review items they’ve purchased is to reach out to them. Follow-up emails and reminders when they revisit the site are good ways to grab their attention. You can also offer points or bonuses if they take the time to submit an honest review. (Asking for a review in the order confirmation email is a waste, in my experience.)

When asking customers to review products, make it easy. Include a simple form that collects only what is necessary, such as these items.

  • A headline for the review (if supported).
  • Content for the review (don’t limit the number of characters).
  • First name plus last initial, or username.
  • Number of stars (or related symbol).

Ideally, customers should be able to upload photos or video, but not all systems support attaching media. If your shopping cart only provides the basics, there are many third-party services that can tie into existing ecommerce sites. Some will even handle the approval process for you.

Speaking of shopping carts, while it’s typically easy to export products and categories from shopping carts, that’s not always the case with product reviews. Should you ever want to change carts, make sure you can take customer product reviews with you. If your site doesn’t currently collect reviews, take the time to make sure that data can be exported properly. And make sure the shopping cart you’re moving to allows for their import. Or, you can opt to go with a hosted reviews service you can take with you.

Instilling Trust in the Review Process

It is important that shoppers see the reviews posted as honest. Approve negative reviews so long as they are written respectfully and don’t include content visitors may find offensive. A negative review can also help sell products — some may point out features that are lacking, yet are not important to every customer.

Other problems may be viewed as user error instead of product failure. It is seemingly impossible for a product to be so loved it receives only five stars, from every review. Shoppers know this.

It also helps to respond to reviews that leave questions unanswered. And sometimes an apology is in order. In other words, embrace opportunities to show visitors that you legitimately care and operate the business with integrity.

Merchants that take time to address legitimate complaints fare better. Source: Amazon.

Merchants that take time to address legitimate complaints fare better. Source: Amazon.

Harness the Full Power

Reviews may also point out what’s missing in product descriptions and bullet points, so be sure to look over them frequently. Among the most common questions answered in reviews are full dimensions, color accuracy, battery life, and true sizing. That means reviews do more than just convert – they can actually help cut down on returns.

In Summary

No matter how small the store, real product reviews are valuable user content that can help convert more visitors into buyers. They can help instill trust in the business and generate more loyal customers.