Retail Customer Experience: Four ways to get online shoppers to contribute reviews
By James Bickers, editor
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail
Customer Experience, a daily news portal devoted to helping retailers differentiate
the shopping experience.
Online reviews, which once
gave brand managers and marketing executives stomachaches, is now pervasive,
and becoming more important with each passing day. According to a recent
Nielsen study, 70 percent of shoppers said they trust consumer opinions posted
on retail websites.
With the help of Viewpoints
Network, which operates the consumer-facing review aggregator Viewpoints.com,
Sears launched two social networking community websites, MySears.com and
MyKmart.com. The sites has since registered more than 400,000 users and see
two million monthly visits.
Rob Harles, Sears’ vice president
of community, said that in the early days of the sites, motivation for shoppers
to contribute reviews was simply the ability to be heard. Shortly thereafter,
they implemented a reputation system that gives “badges” to users based on
their level of involvement — users that write a lot of reviews or get a lot
of friends will receive corresponding kudos to display on their profile pages.
“And we’re gradually experimenting
with small incentives — usually not monetary ones but soft benefits like
sneak peeks and advance notice of things that are hard to get,” he added.
Also key to the sites’ success,
Mr. Harles noted, is the ease with which users can go from casual user to
active contributor. “We are one of the first major retailers to sign up for
Open ID,” he said. “We’re going to intercept people where they are. You can
use your Facebook or Twitter or Yahoo or Google account to log in, if you
Retail consultant Mike Wittenstein
offers these four practical tips for retailers wanting to turn their browsers
and buyers into generators of content:
ask. Go through product registration
cards and invite people, especially those with multiple purchases in a single
category and those who have shopped online in the last six months. Among
that group, home in on store credit cardholders first, inviting them to join
an “advisor’s circle” to kick-start the community pages.
an incentive. When review aggregator
Kudzu launched, for instance, they paid for the first few entries under each
company. Manufacturers and brands could potentially foot part of the bill
data mining to determine which products
already have online reviews (on the manufacturer, brand and/or distributor
websites). With proper permission and attribution, port those reviews over
to get the flow of content started.
contributor profile pages, without
revealing personal information, so that browsers are attracted to reviewers
with similar interests — for instance, a review of a dishwasher might resonate
with parents if the reviewer is designated as “Mother of three, two of whom
are infants with lots of bottles to rinse.”
Discussion Questions: How critical
are customer reviews becoming a part of the online shopping experience?
What do you think are the best ways to get online shoppers to contribute