New research from the e-tailing group has reinforced the importance of user reviews for etailers, with 98% of shoppers reading reviews before making a purchase.

The US-based study (pdf) concludes that reviews are a ‘must-have’ for e-commerce sites, so why are some retailers still not adding reviews?

Highlights from the study include:

  • More than half of consumers said they spent 10 minutes or more reading reviews before deciding whether to purchase.
  • 65% of consumers read reviews ‘all’ or ‘most of’ the time. Of these users, 76% were more likely to shop on a website that offered user reviews.
  • The more reviews, the better – 68% felt that at least four reviews of a product were needed to make a purchase decision.
  • For etailers, the top three reasons for adding user reviews were customer experience, customer loyalty and driving sales.

Despite the apparent benefits of user reviews, a lot of etailers have yet to adopt them.

In our Social Commerce Report last year, we found that just 28% of retailers surveyed had added them, though 52% were considering this option.

According to Bazaarvoice’s Brett Hurt, the addition of reviews can lead to an uplift in conversion rates of up to 20%, as well as increasing average order values by 15% to 30%.

Reviews can be especially useful for consumer electronics purchases, yet many UK websites in this sector have yet to adopt user reviews, including PC World, though both Comet and Curry’s have recently added this function.  

As well as being useful to help customers decide on a purchase, reviews can have a positive effect on etailers’ credibility and also provide some useful unique content, which is very useful from an SEO perspective.

Related research:

Social Commerce Report 2007

Related stories:

Online reviews are mostly positive – Bazaarvoice

Online review authenticity – do we really have a problem?