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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : February 21, 2007

Websites benefit from turning customers into reviewers

E-tailers have been slow to incorporate customer reviews and ratings in their websites for fear of doing more damage than good, but new research shows, it can benefit business and increase sales.

by Helen Leggatt

The young, online generation loves nothing more than to exchange opinions and experiences, as is evidenced from the likes of MySpace and YouTube. In fact, according to MarketingSherpa, around 50 percent of online consumers aged 18 to 34 have posted comments or reviews relating to products or services they have used. "That's substantially more than the 34 percent, who said they have downloaded music files," said MarketingSherpa’s Stefan Tornquist.

According to the research firm’s findings, 43 percent of e-commerce websites integrated customer review and ratings functions of one type or another by the end of 2006, nearly double the number doing so in 2005.

Despite previous fears that allowing consumers to post honest and unfiltered material could damage sales, it has been having the opposite effect in some cases. Petco, which operates 800 pet supply stores across the U.S., noticed that nearly half (49 percent) of visitors who clicked on the highest customer-rated reviews were more likely to purchase, reports CIO.

Bazaarvoice, a company specialising in encouraging and harnessing word of mouth, has recently announced, it is teaming up with IBM to produce software to enable e-tailers develop more customer-centric, Web 2.0 shopping experiences, turning customers in to advocates.

“Word of mouth marketing is the most valuable asset available to retailers today, which is why we are seeing tremendous growth for online ratings and reviews,” said Brett Hurt, Founder and CEO, Bazaarvoice. “Our partnership with IBM will bring this strategic functionality to even more retailers as they deliver a more relevant and rewarding shopping experience.”

Tags: 18-34 age group, Bazaarvoice, customer reviews, IBM, MarketingSherpa, online retailing, online shopping, Petco, Web 2.0, word-of-mouth

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