According to a CompUSA-iPerceptions study, 63 percent of consumers said they were more likely to purchase from a site if it had product ratings and reviews. And JupiterResearch found that 77 percent of online shoppers used consumer-generated product reviews and ratings and that those who found them useful were more loyal to those businesses.

Clearly, allowing customers to rate and review your products right on your website (a la Amazon.com) has a lot of benefits, like increasing sales and decreasing returns. But what if you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a social commerce application?

Worry not. There are now a number of developers with social commerce applications (the ability to add customer-generated ratings and reviews, even the ability to ask and answer customer questions) that small and mid-sized businesses (though probably not small mom-and-pop-type sites) can afford. And they are well worth the investment.

I recently did a case study on one such developer, Bazaarvoice.com, which provided e-commerce business Rugs Direct with the ability to safely and securely allow its customers to post ratings and reviews. It’s a great story — with a happy ending.

Another social commerce service that’s received glowing reviews is Baynote, which I wrote about for Ecommerce-Guide.com last year. And even though I haven’t covered this company yet, I’d check out PowerReviews when comparison shopping.

Have any thoughts or experiences about including or using social commerce/ratings and reviews on a site or tips to share? Let me know. I’ll post your comments.

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