Trust is one of the key factors at this online selling moment of truth. Trust that the product is as good as it seems. Trust that they’re getting a good price. Trust that the merchant will deliver once they hand over their money.
Since Amazon.com shocked book publishers in the mid-1990s by allowing readers to submit their own book reviews, there’s been no looking back. The customer product review has become a foundation of e-commerce, and any webstore with A-grade ambitions will carry product reviews from customers.
Nielsen has put some hard numbers behind this faith that customer reviews are good for business. Its recently-published report Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages states that online consumer reviews are more influential than any form of advertising, and are the one of the most trusted forms of information, second only to personal recommendations from friends and family. Amongst its research findings:
- 70% of consumers trust online customer reviews
- 58% trust company websites
- 50% trust email messages for which they subscribed
- 40% trust search ads
- 36% trust online video ads
- 33% trust banner ads
- 36% trust ads on social networks
This compares with:
- 92% trust recommendations from friends and family
- 47% trust television and magazine ads
A deduction from this research, consistent with experience selling in the USA, is that products without customer product reviews are much less likely to sell well.
When introducing new products to markets overseas, encouraging product reviews is high on the World Wide Access agenda to build confidence in what are often otherwise unknown products and brands.
One example is a programme run for RealNappiesUSA where customers who submit reviews, good or bad, are eligible for a regular prize draw. This has led to many more reviews than otherwise might have been published. The importance of reviews is confirmed anecdotally by the number of customer reviewers who reference earlier reviews as influences on their decision to purchase.
Customer reviews are not the whole picture. Major payment processors such as Google Checkout and marketplaces such as Amazon.com actively solicit customers to describe their experience with each merchant. In the past year alone over 1,100 customers have taken the time to review World Wide Access as an online vendor in the United States. All these reviews are public and freely available for potential customers to read before making their purchase.
This accumulated body of reviews by real customers adds up to trust in World Wide Access as a vendor. New products coming going to the United States with World Wide Access inherit the benefit of this trusted vendor status. This gives an important head start in the market compared with the option of direct market entry as a new vendor yet to establish credibility.