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User reviews help drive e-commerce sales

26 May 2011 - 15:15 by Graham Miller

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UK consumers are turning to reviews written by other customers to help direct their purchasing and, as such, e-commerce firms which make such systems available will see an increase in trade, according to one expert.

Retail consultant, Mark O'Hanlon, has said that people are no longer turning to a single source for their online information or e-commerce needs. Instead people are seeking out opinions and comparing products across a variety of sites, largely thanks to social networking sites and the sharing which they encourage.

Researching before committing to a purchase is nothing new, but with sites like Facebook and Twitter helping people share opinions and sites like Amazon putting an emphasis on letting users review products, there is a real explosion in this area of the industry.

The flipside to information about products and sites being widely available is that retailers can feel the negative impact of inadequate customer service much more quickly and on a fundamental level. People posting disparaging comments about sites online can quickly spread the message if things have been unsatisfactory, so e-commerce firms need to up their game in order to avoid this.

Mr O'Hanlon believes that sites need to build trust with their users and prove that they provide safe shopping online, as well as great customer service in order to hang onto as many customers as possible in a competitive market.

Part of this involves ensuring the correct product information is displayed next to relevant listings and that user reviews are moderated to ensure that no deliberate massaging of the facts is going on unbeknownst to the site operator.

The multichannel nature of retail among modern consumers means retailers must be convincing across all platforms and safe shopping online is just one aspect of this ongoing struggle.