Nowadays, Internet users have noticed the abundance of E-commerce or online sites that have sprung up, especially in emerging market regions. There’s no doubt of it. E-commerce is a booming industry. We can assume that it will develop into even bigger and better over the next several years.
An interesting example is in Australia. For illustration, Australia’s Internet penetration is currently 80.5% of their 22 million populations. Per July 2013 statistics, Australian online retail sales rose to $14.1 billion in the year to July 2013, a level that is equivalent to 6.3% of traditional retail spending. Click this link to download full report on Online Retail Sales Index for July 2013 (courtesy of NAB).
The following figure shows share of online spending by category (year to July 2013):
Search engines like unique and fresh content that is regularly updated, and customer reviews are a great way to create more of this. When many online sites and affiliates will just use the same stock standard descriptions and product specifications, user generated contents can differentiate a product page. This is important as it makes pages more useful to customers, and also increases the chance of ranking highly in search engine result pages.
The number of internet users reading online customer reviews has risen dramatically in recent years. A 2011 Nielsen survey of around 5000 people found that 71% had read reviews, discussions or comments about brands in the past year. And a 2012 Sensis survey of approximately 1000 Australians found that:
- Those aged 20 to 29 were most likely to do so.
- Around 68% of respondents reported reading online reviews or blogs before making a purchase decision.
- On average, people expected to read five reviews before making a decision.
Review sites also report significant figures. For example, in early 2012:
- Urbanspoon.com reported 29 million visits per month.
- TripAdvisor.com reported more than 69 million unique visitors per month.
- Yelp reported 71 million unique visitors per month.
- ProductReview.com.au reported more than 14 million visitors each year.
Customer reviews can help with search engine rankings, but ultimately increase the chance of a click through resulting in a conversion. Customer reviews increase users’ trust in the site, and can help answer questions and remove doubts about products. In addition, more reviews means more conversions, as people have more information and a broader range of user opinion to draw from as they decide on a purchase.
Potential buyers aren’t just looking for good reviews however, because let’s face it, if all reviews were positive, they’d start to wonder if they were legitimate. In support of this, it’s interesting to note that a recent study by an Independent survey company revealed that 30% of consumers suspect fake reviews if there aren’t any negative reviews to be read. The same study reported that bad reviews actually help improve conversions by 67%, so don’t be afraid to publish negative reviews, especially if it’s going to influence potential buyers into making a favourable decision. It’s clear that a healthy mix of positive and negative feedback helps improve consumer trust.
Since August 2013, BusinessZoom has introduced online review features on both Australia and New Zealand site. All business listings have this feature automatically enabled. This is a free feature offered by BusinessZoom for Australian and New Zealand’s small businesses to help improve their rankings on search engine results and increase sales. See below image for an example of customer review on BusinessZoom:
As a summary, use online customer reviews to try appealing to your customers. Online reviews will tell your customers that your business really wants to use their feedback to help improving your services, products and engagement. An honest feedback is a win-win situation for both you and your customers.