Are you maximizing conversion rates on your e-Store from product reviews?
There is much published research that adding product reviews to your e-Store can increase your sales. Indeed an article on this subject published on Practical eCommerce cites:
Additionally the following benefits of product reviews were listed:
Personally I would add another bullet point to this list, although it is related to the second:
It is very important though how you garner product reviews. Many e-Commerce platforms that have built-in product review functionality will allow for anyone on the product page to post a review (either with or without registration). This will definitely get more product review data, but the quality of such reviews will be diminished because it is open to abuse; competitors, suppliers and malcontents can post bogus reviews (positive and negative) which will skew the results. Many e-Commerce shoppers are savvy enough these days to sense these bogus reviews, typically through obvious phrasing, and this will actually hinder the sale rather than promote it. If the consumer doesn't trust your reviews they will lose trust in your store and move on elsewhere.
A second alternative is to use a third party review service. The advantage of this approach is that customers are contacted by a well known, reputable company and will get a good conversion rate of product reviews. They can, however, be very expensive, which is fine if you want to outsource this task rather than expend time (= money) of your staff to do the filtering, reviewing etc. Be careful though how the service provider provides your product reviews for display on your page, if they use 'frames' to their site then all that good text will not help your SEO or SERPs because to all intents and purposes the content is invisible to crawlers.
The third alternative (and this is what is used in our My EZ Store platform) is a proactive automatic follow up where your customers are sent an email by the system, a set time after their order has shipped, which contains a summary of the order along with a link to a secure review page on your store site. This makes it as simple as possible for the customer to provide their views on each product in the order. Upon submission the merchant has to possibility of accepting or rejecting the comments made. For authenticity the merchant is not able to edit the text. The review rate will be lower, but the quality of the product reviews will be exceptionally high. When this was rolled out into one of customers sites sales increased by 20% which made it obvious to the merchant that future customers really trust these reviews.
In conclusion the eMerchant needs to be aware that simply providing product reviews will not automatically get the benefits listed above, but rather emphasis should be placed on quality, follow up and good old customer service ... if a customer has complained in a review but not demanded a refund, maybe you contact that customer proactively and replace it. Such an act will turn someone with a negative view of your store to someone who is treated well and may become a cherished, and profitable, repeat customer.