By Mary Halladay, Industry Principal

As retailers prepare for the holiday shopping season, one area that should never be overlooked is the value of a customer review.

Reviews and ratings can actually help drive sales and site traffic throughout the year, and can help retailers generate and build consumer trust. According to a recent webinar by Bazaarvoice, Dillard’s saw a 100% increase in site traffic from 2013 after reviews were added to the site.

Clearly, retailers should use their customers’ voices; engaging with user-generated content helps a brand or retailer build stronger relationships and improve shopping experiences, especially when they acknowledge both the positive and negative reviews. Every review is an opportunity to connect with a customer. In fact, retailers should look at negative reviews as an opportunity to analyze consumers’ authentic feedback to improve customer service, fine-tune merchandising and in some cases, even look to improve product manufacturing.

Reviews are a key component to winning new customers year-round, so as we approach the holiday shopping season, retailers should have a strategy in place to encourage customers to review and rate products after they make a purchase. Worth noting, Black Friday and Cyber Monday often have the most ratings and reviews page views globally, so it’s important to have plenty of reviews ready for consumers come November.

To further enhance the customer experience, consider these tips to best leverage user-generated content:

  • Optimize for mobile viewing – Many consumers actually become mobile shoppers for the first time during the holidays. Make reviews and ratings easy to find and read across multiple devices.
  • Organize reviews – Simplify the process to find the reviews that matter most to consumers by organizing reviews and ratings into specific groups. For example, if a consumer is looking for toys for children under the age of 3, create a subcategory of your review page that offers “reviews written by moms” or “reviews for best toys for kids under 3.”
  • Consider the everyday activities, too – Especially as we get into the holiday shopping season, retailers need to remember that it’s not all about the gifts. Consumers are looking for general tips and best practices on everyday items, as well. For example, recipe reviews can promote certain products, or highlight other reviews on various baking supplies, decorations and other holiday readiness products.

So how do you get your customers to actually leave reviews?

Ask them for reviews after they purchase a product. Dillard’s saw a 133% increase in reviews after reminding people to submit a review of their purchase via a post-purchase interaction email. Some retailers leverage sweepstakes as a means to entice consumers to leave reviews, and others offer product sampling programs. Don’t forget about social media, too. Facebook is a great place to get reviews. You’d be surprised by how many people leave reviews if you just ask!

As we enter the holiday shopping season, it will be interesting to note how retailers leverage their social integrations to further engage consumers with user-generated content.

Will you look to reviews before making any purchases during this year’s holiday shopping season?

 

*Bazaarvoice is a Demandware LINK Technology Partner that offers ratings and reviews technology.