According to research firm eMarketer, "Online product research is very popular in the UK and traffic to price comparison sites is up as consumers try to stretch every penny."
The beneficiaries of this trend are websites "devoted to customer feedback—such as company and product reviews."
According to a YouGov survey cited by eMarketer, 62% of consumers visited such websites before making a purchasing decision.
The reasons are quite clear: consumers trust the opinions of other consumers (not necessarily retailers themselves) and find them to be less biased. And such websites also often offer the ability to find the best deal.
Offering customers the ability to rank and review products is an ecommerce best practice that has been proven time and time again to boost sales. The latest data from eMarketer just confirms that and demonstrates the growing importance of these reviews at a time when consumers are making purchasing decisions more carefully.
If you're selling online, aren't already offering such functionality and don't want to build it in-house, here are a few third-party tools worth looking at.
Review Foundry is a Perl/MySQL reviews script designed to function like Amazon.com's reviews system.
Five Star Review Script
Another script, this one written in PHP, that provides for Amazon.com-like reviews on a website.
If you're looking to set up a website dedicated specifically to ratings and reviews, Censura is a PHP script that is worth a look.