Online retailers are divided in their opinions of customer reviews. There are those who have yet to add this feature to their site, fearing a flurry of negative reviews that will put other customers off buying the product or service in question.

Customer reviews however should be viewed as an essential part of e-commerce if you hope to be successful, and the benefits hugely outweigh the downsides. Here’s why your site needs this small but hugely impactful feature right away…

Increase Sales

First and foremost, reviews do increase sales, something that has been proven time and again. 63% of consumers state they’re more likely to buy from a site with user reviews (iPerceptions, 2011).

Why is this? Well, according to eMarketer (2010) consumer generated reviews are almost twelve times more trusted than the product descriptions you have on your site which is only normal if you think about it – you can wax lyrical about how fantastic your product is, but visitors know that you’re saying that because you’re trying to sell it to them!

Reviews from ‘real’ people without a vested interest in whether you purchase or not are much more likely to reflect the product in its true light. If your customers agree that your product really is amazing, it will encourage others to buy from you too.

 

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Improve Trust

What of negative reviews though? Luckily, it’s not all bad. For starters, if you clicked onto a product and saw it had sixty or seventy fantastic, ‘5 out of 5’ reviews, wouldn’t it strike you as odd? Would you not suspect that these reviews might have been faked, or at the very least that bad reviews had been censored and removed by the company?

Having the odd neutral or even negative review in the mix makes all those positive reviews look all the more reliable and trustworthy.

Plus, a less-than-perfect review can be seen as a chance to show off your better-than-usual customer service. Ensure when adding this feature that you have the option to reply (visible to site visitors) to negative reviews, and then ensure you reply in a fast, friendly and helpful manner.

Potential customers will see that you are a company that deals with problems that may arise, significantly increasing the trust factor and hence conversions.

Of course, too many negative reviews are never good. If a particular product is continually receiving bad reviews, take this as a hint that it doesn’t belong on your site because including it in the orders you’re sending out is just reducing customer satisfaction and loyalty!

If you’re afraid to implement a reviews feature because you’re worried you’ll end up with more bad than good ones, perhaps it’s time to consider if you should really be selling products or services that even you don’t believe are great ones!

 

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 SEO Benefits

Last but not least, a user reviews feature can also have considerable SEO benefits for your website too!

After recent search engine updates, it’s all about getting fresh, unique content up on your site regularly, but if you don’t have the time or budget to do this yourself, why not see user reviews as a form of crowd sourcing?

Users will be adding unique copy to your website themselves, effectively taking a big load of work off your hands!

 

These are in fact just a few of the many, many benefits that adding a reviews feature to your site can bring. No e-commerce site should be without an option to leave reviews so if you don’t have this feature yet, it’s time to move it to the top of your web design ‘to do’ list!