Finding the Best Value With Online Product Reviews

When you are planning to buy an item or product, a common gesture done by most consumers is to ask their friend or family members for opinion about a given product before buying to generate information.This applies for all type of products,whether it be appliances,clothing, or any other items. Anyone wants to gain more information about a certain product before they go on to pay for it. same thing applicable for online product reviews are the best tool that online shoppers can use to help them out in finding the best product out there.

If you have tried online shopping before, you probably have noticed a star rating provided next to each product as you are browsing through your possible options. Although not all online shops offer this feature, most of them do and you have to take advantage of this feature. In most cases, those ratings provide direct link to online product reviews that you can read to gather information about a product and learn what others’ opinion of the product is.

Although these reviews provide valuable information about a certain product, you must not take 100 percent of the information as it is. Most of the reviews written for products found online are legitimate, such that they are written by industry experts who have tested the product or consumers who bought and have tried it. You need to be wary about fake reviews though that were written with product promotion as its hidden agenda. These types of reviews provide positive assessment of the website and serve to shadow the negative features just to convince buyers to purchase it. It is therefore important to have an idea of what to look for in a given product before heading out to do your online shopping.

Although they are of help, star ratings placed next to the product do not offer anything. You can be more confident with reviews written by actual users or consumers of the product. It will provide a more realistic and effective insight into the product, especially issues concerning user functionality. Going back to the above statement, knowing what your needs are and specific characteristics that you want, reviews you read can potentially impact your buying information based on your buying priorities and intended use. You have to admit it; product descriptions provided in online shops do not offer much, so these online product reviews should be generated to the fullest.

To conclude, online product reviews enable the consumer to identify the advantages and disadvantages of buying a certain product. Hence, many online merchants have invested on the business of writing reviews knowing how much it affects the buying decision of certain individuals. Indeed, they double as a promotional or marketing strategy knowing that consumers rely on the validity of information provided to ensure that they have made a great choice.

Ecommerce and Product Reviews of Shopping Cart Software

More consumers than ever are conducting their shopping online and in the future even more people will conduct their shopping this way. The reason why is that shopping online is fast, easy and it is simple to compare prices from many stores for the same product. The only big drawback of ecommerce is the inability to hold a product in your hands and look it over. Fortunately, there is a substitute for this and it is known as product reviews. Sure, product reviews don’t let you feel what the product is like, but they will explain to you the benefits and drawbacks and personal experiences. This is incredibly important for online shoppers because they can read others’ experiences. Many times the product reviews will be informative enough to help online shoppers make a decision and choose to buy or pass on a particular item.

When you are looking for shopping cart software it is even more important to read product reviews. The reason why is that everyone will have a different experience and they will detail those in their review. Some users will find the shopping cart software to be perfect for their needs and explain what those needs are. Then, there will be others who found the software to be lacking for whatever reason and will explain why. You read these reviews and can tell by others’ experiences if the software will fit your needs and future needs as well. Keep in mind you should read all reviews before making a decision, or at least a good sampling. You want to focus on the bad reviews and see why someone rated the software low. Perhaps they didn’t like the price or they didn’t know how to use it. If that’s the case then the bad review is irrelevant. Yet, if the review states that the software has glitches and explains what those are then you should pay more attention to this type of review.

Spending a few minutes reading what other consumers have to say about different shopping cart software may help you make a decision as to which software will work best for you. Remember, don’t read just one or two reviews. Instead, take 10 minutes and read as many good, average, and bad reviews as you can. This will help you understand more about the product and its benefits and drawbacks. When you know more about how the shopping cart software works when implemented then you can decide what to buy.

The Rise of Social Shopping and User Reviews

Why I think customer reviews and social shopping are important. Social shopping is an interesting concept which divides opinion amongst web commentators.

Most are agreed that social shopping is a specific type of web service with its roots in the social explosion of Web 2.0.

In their purest form the best social shopping sites provide an open independent platform where users can add products, post a review or provide a product rating. The sites are service orientated, providing the tools for others to use and as such rely heavily on user generated content to set the agenda.

In essence the opportunity now exists for consumers to band together, discuss specific products and brands and provide an authentic alternative voice to the brand led marketing activity and conventional expert reviews we are all subjected to in other media.

By sharing product knowledge and experiences, creating useful content, an empowered community consensus can emerge, highlighting the gems and warning against the over hyped duds – the products which disappoint and fail to deliver.

This type of user generated content has a real value and satisfies an important element of the online shopping process – research, which accounts for 80% of consumer time when they are shopping online.

Social shopping sites combine social elements such as a social networking community features with aspects of shopping such as product reviews, ratings and deal hunting.

Some of the more agile social shopping sites are making use of the Twitter API and Facebook Connect to tap in to the online conversation, providing context for product related Tweets on Twitter and distribution of product opinion via Facebook.

Social shopping sites can be viewed as a value added evolution of the affiliate model – as they seek to monetize website content (the user generated product reviews and ratings) by sending traffic to third party merchant sites where they can purchase product.

My starting position is to agree with the mantra that “customer recommendation is the Holy Grail of Advertising”. We know this is true in the real world – if your friends and neighbours enthuse about their new car, lawnmower, laptop or digital camera – it will have weight, you take note.

The same holds online – reviews and recommendations are very powerful; especially those from people with status in a community, and those which are provided weeks and months after the purchase; only the scale and dynamics of relationships differ. The potential then of social shopping and what it offers us as consumers, product designers, specialist retailers and brands which really focus on and respond to their community is very exciting.

Some statistics and predictions from rantorave.

According to a global Nielsen survey of 26,486 Internet users in 47 markets, consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising among 78% of the study’s respondents. (Nielsen, “Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool”).

83% of shoppers said online product evaluations and reviews influenced their purchasing decisions. (Opinion Research Corporation, an infoGROUP company, July 2008).

76% of US retailers said user-generated content would have a greater impact on their marketing goals in the near future. (SLI Systems/Zoomerang, November 2008).

56% of UK website owners say that user-generated content lifts conversion levels; 77% say it increases traffic; and 42% say it increases the average spend on site.(eConsultancy survey of 360 website owners across all sectors, November 2008).

By 2020, 84% of marketers agree that building customer trust will become marketing’s primary objective, and 82% agree that collaboration with customers will prevail over marketing. (1to1 Media survey April, 2008).

Top 10 Social shopping sites: (note I am only allowed to submit an article with 4 links)

  1. Kaboodle – http://www.kaboodle.com a great site, arguably market leader geared towards female consumers. Now owned by Hearst Digital Media.
  2. ThisNext – another strong site with an emphasis on female consumers, this site feels like a great window shopping experience with expert Maverns on tap
  3. Tribesmart – http://www.tribesmart.com this site is making use of twitter and Facebook connect. There are some great tools such as the personal list builder and community messaging features based on the ‘Tribes’ idea. Like Veedow, Wists and Crowdstorm it could appeal to both sexes and this is potentially where the gap in the market is as Kaboodle, OSOYOU and ThisNext seem to have marked out a claim on the younger female market.
  4. Veedow – a slightly confusing site, a neat idea, still yet to realize it’s full potential in my view
  5. Stylehive – feeling less like a pure play social shopping site these days, it has a strong emphasis on wannabe celebrity fashion/lifestyle writers who you follow – it is not as vibrant as twitter although you can see where they are going with it
  6. Jungle Raft – a new entrant, included as it is a new concept with a clear proposition in terms of pulling the best deals from Amazon
  7. Stylefeeder – offers to help users discover products based on their unique tastes. The looks a little off the pace and has some annoying and tacky pop up ads. All a bit old skool.
  8. Crowdstorm – the site is a Digg type site for products, it is based on buzz and an expert opinion network- although it does seem to have gone quiet in the last 12 months
  9. Shopstyle – feels like an ecommerce site with price discounts on display. Lacks obvious reviews or community features although the stylebooks feature is really nice enabling people to put looks together and share these – the ‘sale alert’ feature could be useful though and the site has hooked up with Elle magazine in the past.
  10. Wists – a trending site about what is new and what people plan on buying

There are many others, sites like Shopcorn and Naturalbornshoppers to name but two.