Exploiting the herd – why reviews are so important

The point is this, fashion trends happen because we tend to move as a herd. As business people, we need to both understand this and see that it creates opportunities, and not only in high fashion.

Most of us feel much more comfortable and safe if we are doing the same as the crowd. You see this in the stock market where, at any one time a particular asset class is being bid up to the sky, and you also see it in car parking – “everyone else was parked there, so I didn’t expect to be towed away.”

Reviews reassure
This brings me to the point of my blog. For an ecommerce website , the place where this crowd mentality matters most is in soliciting customer feedback. The prevalence of feedback on a site, with people telling their stories, makes a significant difference to our comfort in buying.

For example, Charles Tyrwhitt, the high-end shirt supplier, found that people who looked at customer reviews were three times more likely to buy than those that didn’t. Using formal statistical analysis, it proved that positioning feedback on its website in a certain way increased orders by 10%. Other studies bear this out. Therefore, it’s not a co-incidence that all of the largest ecommerce stores use feedback.

At my company, we have a long-standing partnership with the independent feedback supplier, Feefo. We have hundreds of clients using the service, and when we recently put together a video on the subject, it was very easy to find merchants to talk about their positive experiences. It’s a frustration to me that many smaller sites still haven’t embraced feedback. I’m personally on a bit of a campaign to try to change that.

Negative comments are an opportunity
Of course, many smaller ecommerce retailers are scared of negative feedback. My take on this is simple, if your service is poor, then negative feedback will force you to improve and gives you an opportunity to respond and show that you care. The result will be that your business will end up growing and being more profitable.

Dealing with problems takes time, but it will really work. Negative feedback cannot in any case be suppressed. If it doesn’t appear on your site, instead it will happen on Twitter, Facebook and other forums.

On the other hand, if your service is already good, sales will immediately jump. So negative comments may be painful, but both negative and positive comments can involve gain. What’s not to like?

The herd instinct means that most of us don’t feel happy if we are alone. As a smaller ecommerce retailer, this can really work against you. The good news is that there is an antidote, and it’s called customer feedback.

About Chris Barling

Chris Barling co-founded ecommerce software supplier, SellerDeck (formerly Actinic Software) in 1996. He has over 30 years’ experience at the corporate end of the IT industry. He is a prolific writer for a large range of small business media and has also published three books on ecommerce.

  • Chris Barling

    Hi Ross, without looking at your site and spending some time on it, it is difficult to say. The normal way to determine this would be to try a few different placements and A/B test them. In other words you have different versions of your page and you see which is most effective at achieving your conversion goal – whether that’s clicking on a “Ask for more information” button, which it might be on your site, or “Add to cart” which it would be on an ecommerce site.

    Chris