Merchant and Customer Perspectives on Customer Reviews and User-Generated Content

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A two-pronged approach was undertaken to learn about customer reviews beginning with The Social Shopper Study conducted in 4Q ’07. Via an online questionnaire, 1,200 consumers who shop online at least four times per year, and spend $500 or more annually were surveyed to understand how online shoppers use reviews today to make informed buying decisions.

Consumers’ preferences and interests in “Social Navigation,” defined as the ability to narrow product selections based on reviews from like-minded people, were also explored. Among the key findings was insight into the mindset of “Social Researchers.” Their research-orientation coupled with their social approach turns the table on the customer/merchant relationship; signaling that reviews are only the beginning of a new shopping paradigm.

The second component of the paper highlights interviews with a broad cross-section of merchants, supported by platforms ranging from PowerReviews and BazaarVoice to those maintained on proprietary systems. Interview discussions covered the state of user-generated content, implementation and execution along with ROI plus issues and challenges that resulted from the customer review experience.

Consumer Charts:

  • How often customers read reviews prior to making a product decision
  • Stages in the shopping process when customers typically read reviews
  • Percent of overall shopping that involves researching products online
  • Time spent typically reading customer reviews of products
  • Minimum number of customer reviews on a product needed to give sufficient confidence to judge that product

Merchant Charts:

  • Three most important factors in the addition of reviews to a site
  • Percent of customers who have completed a review
  • Percent of products that have reviews
  • Independent of what is measured, how reviews impact e-commerce business
  • How reviews are actually measured on sites
  • The overall increase in conversion seen as a result of adding reviews to sites

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Consumer Perspective
  3. The Merchant Perspective
  4. Execution – Start with Building a Review Network
  5. Measurement Techniques
  6. Future Initiatives
  7. Loyalty – The Last Horizon



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