August 25, 2009

Increase Sales with Product Reviews and Ratings


Hostway Team

By Hostway

Recent studies show that objective third-party reviews and ratings increase sales on ecommerce Web sites. Reviews, even negative ones, can help establish credibility and trust in the minds of potential customers. And they provide customers with vital information that reduces return rates and raises post-sale satisfaction.

Adding ratings and reviews to your Web site is easy, but you need a plan. Consider how you will:

1. Get Your First Reviews

Naturally, you'll start at zero, and you'll need to work to get those first few reviews. You can try a strategy that worked for pet supply retailer Petco. The company offered anyone who wrote a review a chance to win a $100 gift certificate. Petco built up its reviews and gave customers something valuable in return.

2. Give Reviewers a Chance to Express Themselves

People who review products on a Web site might fancy themselves experts in the subject area. Offering the option to post a profile may encourage more reviews by giving them the chance to show off their expertise. This not only helps you gain more reviews, it makes the reviews more valuable to customers by exposing biases and establishing credentials.

3. Hold Reviewers Accountable and Monitor Posts

You may fear that people will post inappropriate and offensive comments (as you should). Find a way to monitor posts and protect your brand image. Start by requiring reviewers to register their information and create a password-protected username before they post a review. They're more likely to post serious comments when they're not anonymous. Post your privacy policy on your registration page to assure reviewers that you will not share their personal information with third parties.

Benefits Abound

When you've successfully added reviews to your site, you'll find many other benefits, such as:

  • Improved search engine ranking as a result of additional fresh, relevant content
  • Increased sales of highly rated products
  • An understanding of the flaws with poorly rated products
  • Insight into how your customers use your products

If you have an ecommerce Web hosting plan with Hostway, and you use Merchant Manager as your shopping cart, customer reviews and ratings are included in your plan. Other shopping cart software may include reviews, or they may be added at an additional charge. Check your software features to get started.

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