RSR | Future of Trust & E-commerce

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It’s understandable why some online consumers find it difficult to pull the trigger on making a purchase. They don’t have the convenience of taking an item into a dressing room or asking the sales clerk about the product’s efficacy to remove a stain. They have to go based on some words and photos posted by the manufacturer, and hope that it arrives as advertised.

This is why customer reviews and ratings are a big deal for e-commerce companies. Online consumers no longer have to hope that they get what they paid for — and, if unsatisfied with the purchase, that the return policy is fair. With reviews and ratings from like-minded customers, they receive the sort of validation normally sought from friends and families when
surveying a local shop.

“[W]e seem to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t. Especially when we are uncertain, we are willing to place an enormous amount of trust in the collective knowledge of the crowd.” – Robert B. Cialdini

This concept that social proof matters in the decision-making process is nothing new. It’s just the form it takes in the online landscape that is.

As someone who deals in e-commerce, it’s your job to cater to your customers’ needs and preferences — and this means including a ratings and reviews system on-site for added shopping convenience. Consequently, you’ll likely find that this seemingly small gesture will lead to an increase in conversions for your business. Here are seven reasons why:

1. Provides Social Proof

The number one reason why ratings and reviews will give your site a conversion boost? Because “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation,” according to Brightlocal. By allowing for open and honest reviews of your products and services, consumers feel more in control — as they no longer have to rely solely on what you tell them. Social proof speaks volumes and those public opinions are sure to help increase your bottom line.

2. Improves Decision-Making Process

The decision-making process is tough — especially with so many review sites readily available online trying to tell consumers what they should or shouldn’t buy. By including reviews and ratings on your site, you’re giving customers one less step to take while researching their options.

According to one study, adding a single review to a product page can increase conversions by 10%. Additionally, if you add 30 reviews, conversions increase by 25%, and 100 reviews added results in a 37% increase. The more real use-case opinions you can offer, and the less time you force consumers to search around the web, the more confidence they’ll feel in committing to a purchase.

3. Instills Trust

Landing pages and business websites are great for educating consumers about what you do and pushing the hard sell. But let’s be honest, they’re not the most consumer-friendly. They’re like the equivalent of the salesperson following a shopper around the store, telling them about every single item they look at and reminding them about the fantastic deals you have.

Consumer reviews and ratings, instead, remove the pressure and show customers that you trust them. You trust them to leave honest reviews and you trust them to take their time in reading them and making up their own mind. This in turn improves your overall reputability as a company and offers consumers the ability to assess all feedback — positive or negative — before making a decision.

If you’re wary of this particular reason, just take a look at what Amazon did. The company wanted to improve its ratings system by giving customers the chance to indicate if a review was helpful. There was no restriction that said that only positive reviews could be labeled as “helpful” and yet, it still resulted in an increase of $2.7 billion in revenue.

4. Supports Local Foot Traffic

For those of you who run an online store to support a brick-and- mortar location (or vice versa), ratings can help increase sales in both spots. How? Well, most people have a smartphone these days. And smartphones mean instant access to the Internet — and consumer ratings. With “74% of consumers say[ing] that positive reviews make them trust a local business more,” this would be an easy way to boost the amount of foot traffic going into your store.

5. Improves Search Results

According to BazaarVoice, search engines love websites that regularly add customer reviews. In fact, they put the increased number of search traffic at somewhere between 15% and 25% when reviews were added to product pages. While this won’t directly increase your conversions, it will do so indirectly as more traffic is driven to your site, giving you a greater audience to convert.

6. Builds Bridges

Considering that 60% of Americans surveyed by American Express said they would spend more with businesses that provided high-quality service, I think it’s obvious what needs to be done to take reviews and ratings to the next level.

Consumer reviews can be an extremely powerful tool in communicating to your online audience how reputable of a brand you are. And it’s not just about getting a bunch of positive reviews either. By monitoring the reviews that come through your site, you can publicly acknowledge them and address any potential issues that have arisen (or you can simply thank satisfied customers for their purchase and loyalty). In so doing, you’ll show others that it’s not just about the bottom line for you. It’s about building relationships and trust.

7. Enhances Your Offering 

Back in 2011, David Pogue was quoted as saying: “The rise of the citizen review site is a sobering development. No longer are you on top of the mountain, blasting your marketing message down to the masses through your megaphone. All of a sudden, the masses are conversing with one another. If your service or product isn’t any good, they’ll out you.”

Here’s the problem with that thinking: it doesn’t consider the fact that consumer feedback should be part of your business’s overall strategy. If customers are complaining left and right, there’s something wrong with your offering and it should be fixed. By embracing consumer reviews and ratings, companies can use these metrics to figure out what is or isn’t working, and, consequently, build a better solution from it.

Nathan Oulman loves to write around the web on conversions and customer loyalty. When he isn’t busy mowing the lawn and writing he focuses on his blog at

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