As the e-commerce landscape evolves and more merchants launch online stores, it’s hard for consumers to tell which product — and which retailer — is the right one for them. So, before browsers make their purchase decisions, they’re increasingly looking at product reviews — on personal blogs, Yelp reviews, Facebook posts, product pages and more — to do research, compare prices and locate vendors.
Now that the habit of consulting reviews or ratings before making a purchase is commonplace (nearly 70% of customers do it), reviews have become the No. 2 source of brand information and messaging. By allowing product reviews on their own e-commerce site, merchants can reap a surprising number of benefits, not only for their business, but also for their customers.
How Customer Reviews Benefit Customers and Merchants
Because product reviews have become such an essential part of the decision-making process, every merchant must understand the power of customer reviews and why merchants should use them to build their business. Here are three reasons why e-commerce merchants should display customer reviews online:
1. Reviews Offer Real-World Perspectives
The last thing customers want is to be unhappy with their purchases, which is inevitable if the delivered product turns out to be different than expected. That’s why 61% of customers turn to online reviews before making a purchase decision. While a retailer’s product descriptions and photos are helpful, reviews from customers give the practical information a customer needs to make an informed decision. The result? Happier customers, and fewer returns and chargebacks.
2. Reviews Build Confidence in Online Retailers
As new e-commerce merchants open up shop and try to grow their business, they need to develop a reputation of trust with their customers. That can be hard to do when customers are wary of schemes like malware, phishing attempts and merchants who don’t deliver on their promises.
Trust indicators — like positive comments about customer service, reliability or honesty — go a long way in convincing customers to place an order with a smaller e-commerce merchant. In fact, 63% of consumers are likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.
3. Reviews Improve Brand Reputation
Building a brand’s reputation is a challenge to growing merchants. That’s where social proof (when a person assumes the actions or behaviors of others to be correct, so they follow suit) comes in play: If a shopper sees a product’s long list of customer-submitted 5-star reviews, they’re more likely to believe that they’ll be happy with it, too. On average, 71% of consumers assert that customer reviews increase their confidence that they’re making the right purchase.
How Even Negative Customer Reviews Can Help a Business
Customers should feel comfortable enough to leave fair and honest reviews — even negative ones. Not every transaction is worthy of 5 stars, and that’s OK. In fact, customers are right to be suspicious of a company with no critical reviews. It could mean that the positive reviews are fake or the retailer selectively publishes only positive reviews. In either case, customers walk away disbelieving everything the merchant says — and sells.
Although no business gets it right every time, online merchants may be reluctant to have their misses posted publicly. But retailers should understand that negative reviews — when addressed correctly — can actually help their business.
The long-term effect on a customer relationship after a merchant mistake depends on how retailers address the issue. Turn a negative experience into a positive one by:
- Responding immediately. Online retailers should regularly monitor email and social media accounts and promptly respond to customer inquiries.
- Admitting to the mistake. Customers are more willing to return to a merchant when they admit that they’ve made a mistake and then fix it.
- Taking the conversation offline. Publicly acknowledge the review, so customers know it’s being addressed, then take the issue offline for resolution.
- Asking for a second chance. After correcting the error, make it up to the customer by offering a gift with purchase or a discount off the next purchase.
Negative reviews, while discouraging to receive, actually offer e-commerce retailers important opportunities to improve their customer service and operations and positively shift a customer’s experience.
Start Implementing the Tools for Online Sales Success
Nowadays, one of the first things a customer looks at when deciding where to spend their dollars is customer reviews. They trust peers to provide the fair, objective evaluations of a product and ease concerns about purchasing from an unfamiliar retailer. This customer feedback does more than encourage purchases; it also helps businesses improve operations, strengthen customer relationships and foster long-term success.
Implementing a robust fraud protection solution is another important way businesses can build revenue and protect customer relationships. ClearSale’s one-of-a-kind solution has resulted in some of the industry’s highest approval rates and has virtually eliminated false positives, giving your customers the confidence they need to shop with you. Learn what else shoppers are looking for in a safer, easier, smarter e-commerce experience — and how you can provide it — by downloading our ebook “The e-Commerce Technology That Will Shape 2017.”