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Monday, Feb. 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm

70% of Online Shoppers Read Multiple Product Reviews

By Daniel McGuigan
February 25th, 2008

An e-tailing group study commissioned by PowerReviews has further revealed the necessity for customer-generated product reviews on e-commerce sites.

It seems the majority of online shoppers want to hear what people like them have to say about the product they’re researching. Almost 70% of customers looked at more than 4 reviews before making a purchase.

The study also gives a sense of how long visitors spend reading reviews before their purchase (50% spend over 10 minutes) and found that most people read reviews once they’ve narrowed down their search to 2 or 3 products.

Just having reviews isn’t going to cut it, though. E-tailers must give the would-be customer something more if they want them to come back to their sites — not just to research, but to buy. If more than 50% of customers spend over ten minutes looking at reviews, that shows they’re looking for more than just an overall “star rating.” For instance, one way of boosting your reviews’ credibility is having a “pros and a cons” field for visitors to fill out. This will show visitors that you welcome criticism and are confident in your products, while making the reviews that much more valuable to other visitors.

Here are some tips and a screencast from Bryan to help plan and optimize your review system.

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Comments (15)

  1. Interesting… I find myself wondering a lot lately about what e-commerce sites can do to improve the usefulness of reviews. The big problem I have, especially on hotel sites, is that you seem to be able to find a group of people who love and hate just about everything, and so often the reviews (as much as I think I want them) leave me more confused than when I started. Structured feedback like your pros-and-cons idea is definitely a direction I think we’ll see more of.

  2. [...] 70% of Online Shoppers Read Multiple Product Reviews – Wow! That is a lot more than I expected…one of the first bold statements in this post states that “Almost 70% of customers looked at more than 4 reviews before making a purchase.” This is definitely a “must read” post! [...]

  3. Merchants all seem to know that reviews are effective. What they don’t know is how to encourage customers to leave them. Perhaps deploying some of the techniques seen in Bry-an’s video, particularly putting the reviews above the fold, would make the whole process more visible.

  4. Michelle’s comment is dead-on. At Bazaarvoice, our Marketing Services team works closely with every client to deploy tailored strategies from our library of best practices to encourage customers to leave as many reviews, questions, answers, and Stories as possible!

  5. We’ve seen a ton of articles on this exact subject recently. The consumers are definitely gaining more control despite the fact that business could skew some reviews by posting positive ones of their own but like Michelle said, more businesses should encourage their customers to leave positive feedback. It may certainly help their overall sales!

  6. I think it’s also important for a company to have an action plan for bad reviews–if a site just has good reviews, it looks suspicious. However, if management responds to negative reviews in a timely and compassionate manner, it’s like bonus points.

  7. I passed this on to my boss and we are evaluating options for better placed reviews for Volusion’s shopping cart. Thank you.

  8. I had an interesting discussion about this on the Church of the Customer blog about the efficacy of online word-of-mouth versus real-life word of mouth.

    My position fell right along with the information provided here, that online word-of-mouth’s advantage is sheer volume–meaning I can potentially read dozens of opinions on a product before purchasing, which is a powerful way to build market trust and brand awareness.

  9. Very interesting article. I think we’re going to see a huge increase in the amount of money spent on online customer experience research. I know some companies have begun implementing mystery shopping programs to measure this online customer experience.

  10. Speaking as someone who purchases more on-line than I do from the store, I can say that I rarely make a new purchase without looking first at customer reviews, and though I mostly read reviews after I’ve narrowed my search, I sometimes use them preliminarily, as a way of finding those products that stand out. I agree with Dr. Pete’s observation regarding those reviewers who either love or hate just about everything, but I think an experienced on-line shopper learns to cull the wheat from the chaff in terms of useful reviews fairly quickly.

  11. Not only do I pay more attention to customer reviews online, I now write more reviews myself.

    It almost seems an obligation as I’ve derived so much benefit from others experiences.

  12. [...] buying a product, customers are said to look at more than 4 reviews. 77% of visitors shopping online use reviews and ratings when purchasing. (Jupiter Research, August [...]

  13. This is great info. We’ve been working on implementing a ratings system adn we love the idea of using pros and cons.

  14. This is exactly why it’s extremely important for marketers to make real, high quality reviews that are in-depth and really answers the questions that the consumer is looking for.

  15. [...] translate that to the online world. According to the information gathered by Future Now (this is a really cool site by the way), about 70% of customers check more than 4 reviews before [...]

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