ecommerce_north_logo_2009This morning Sam and i attended the Ecommerce Expo event in Manchester. The event hosted in the Hilton Hotel was for people interested in e-commerce systems and we managed to pickup some great pointers on the uses of on site product reviews. The guys at Bazaarvoice gave some great insights in to how customer reviews might influence potential buyers decisions. This was of particular interest to us as we have a range of clients who operate e-commerce stores and use these types of systems.

Useful Reviews

One of the points that the guys were keen to hit home was the fact that not all reviews are useful. For example a one line review saying something along the lines of great product is not particularly useful when people are considering making a purchase. People tend to look for things like reliability, quality and uses. This is why attracting much more specific and quality reviews is important.

Research carried out by Bazaarvoice who sell bespoke review systems highlighted something that i found to be particularly interesting. There research showed that people are more likely to buy products that have reviews compared to ones that don’t. The interesting part was that in many instances people still made purchases even though a product had a negative review. This could have been down to the person not using the product for the same purposes or having different requirements for it. The point was that customers thrive on this useful and impartial feedback.

Attracting Reviews

The easy bit in most instances is creating the review system itself however getting people to leave reviews is much more difficult. The process of engaging with customers is crucial and a common tactic is to use emails after the point of purchase. That is once a product has arrived you send them an email and try and get them to leave a review. This requires the use of a carefully crafted email as telling people it would be fun to write a review just doesn’t work. There has to be a benefit to the user in some way. Maybe helping the community or offering a discount would work.

Once you have sent the email and got people back to the site webmasters need to think about the review process. Users need to be able to quickly and easily add quality reviews. A good tactic is to set a minimum word count so that people cant read generic one line reviews. Its all in the detail.


There are obviously lots of ways you can tweak and improve your product review sections. What the session taught me is that product reviews can be a great way to generate higher conversion levels. In having a brief look at sites this afternoon i found Argos to have a great review system which seems to generate a good number of reviews.