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Reviews are one of the top motivators for people to buy, so buyers should pay attention to customer feedback.

86% of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions. Whether for a business or for a product line, people feel more comfortable making a buying decision, even if they don’t know the person giving the review.

Reviews directly impact how you appear in search rankings.  Since more than 80% of consumers begin their purchasing journey on a search engine, if you’re not within the first few positions of the results pages you are basically invisible to them.  (You can link here to see one example of how reviews bumped a small-chain store OVER Home Depot in search rankings).

Google indexes product reviews, which means more product reviews can increase the number of keywords you rank for. What’s even better is that such online reviews also tell you how to improve your customer service AND ultimately to make your products better.  A business can track the reviews – both positive and negative and and use it to create better products. You can capture this online this feedback into consideration and share it with other departments that need the this feedback to improve.  It’s especially important for SUPERIOR buyers to pay attention to the reviews to make better purchasing decision.

How you interact with your customer reviews also impacts the review process.  Many companies enjoy the good reviews but don’t have a system in place to manage bad feedback. Negative reviews can actually increase your online sales. In fact, consumers occasionally seek out negative reviews when shopping for a product or a service.  Establishing a system to capture and control your online review process is imperative for any retailer looking to capture a new market segment moving in to the future.

As explained by Tom Ryan, managing editor of RetailWire online,  beyond making sure they’re credible, many websites are improving sorting capabilities, providing more information on reviewers and taking other steps to help consumers quickly benefit from online reviews.

A review of several websites by RetailWire shows a few unique techniques being used:

  • Editing: Sites such as Amazon.com let reviews run long while others edit copy down to key points.
  • Images/videos: Reviewers can add videos and images on Amazon and Kohl’s.
  • Multiple ratings: While most sites only show the overall rating of the product on a one- to five-star basis, Macy’s enables reviewers to rate footwear by whether it fits narrow or wide or whether it has arch support. Home Depot lets reviewers provide a rating on refrigerators based on features, energy efficiency, quality and value.
  • Pros and cons: Best Buy sums up five brief pros and cons for each product based on mentions in reviews.
  • Reviewer profile: On Williams Sonoma’s website, a review of knives provides information on the reviewer’s ability level, how long they’ve owned the product at the time of the review, and how frequently they use the product. On Macy’s, reviewers often provide their age range, gender, location, how frequently they purchase at Macy’s, a description of their style and what occasion they bought the product for. Walmart highlights whether the reviewer is a “top 1000 contributor” or a Walmart associate. Amazon details how many helpful votes each reviewer has earned and their reviewer ranking. Many sites display whether the reviewer is a “verified purchaser.”
  • Searching reviews: Both Amazon and Best Buy enable keyword searches, such as looking for the word “battery” in reviews of electronic devices.
  • Sorting: The most common sorting is newest to oldest, most to least helpful, and highest to lowest rating. A few reviews sort by relevancy, which combines factors such as helpfulness votes, latest reviews and other beneficial traits. Kohl’s enables sorting by photo reviews first or video reviews first. Garnett Hill enables reviews by rave reviews first, expert reviews first, staff reviews first, top contributors first, and length (long to short, short to long).

Read more of the industry expert advice regarding reviews and ratings in the comments section of Tom’s article.  

Superior Retailers Value Great Online Reviews

Get a copy of the full special report from GRIP President Elias Amash “Strategies to Be a Superior Buyer” HERE.