To Review or Not to Review A Question for B2B E CommerceToday’s post is written by Sarah Johnson, Interactive Marketing Consultant at Insite Software. Email Sarah.

One of the most influential buying drivers on any purchasing decision is the opinion and feedback of the people we trust. In the ecommerce space, online shoppers most often put their trust in the comments provided by other customers via product reviews. The idea that someone else bought a product and liked it or disliked it enough to write a review makes us buy faster and with more confidence. With that in mind, it’s critical that you employ user reviews on your B2B ecommerce site.

The Amazon Effect

This phenomenon has been described as the “Amazon effect” by Joshua Porter in his book Designing for the Social Web (http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Social-Web-Joshua-Porter/dp/0321534921).  During his research, Porter observed that people started shopping on Amazon.com first because they believed that Amazon offered trustworthy information provided by shoppers with similar tastes, beliefs and opinions. In this way, the Amazon site served as the source for unbiased product opinions rather than simply relying on information provided by a product’s marketers.

Why Reviews Matter

Reviews and ratings engage online shoppers and stimulate conversation with your site and products. These conversations–all of which should be integrated with relevant social applications to maximize their power—drive conversions by giving the customer the endorsement they need. For a long time, reviews and ratings were thought to be the stuff of the B2C ecommerce experience. In the B2B world, reviews can be even more crucial as buyers are tasked with buying higher volumes and often higher priced items while facing challenges like inventory turn and P&L. Customer review application Power Reviews (http://www.powerreviews.com/products/social-content-engine/customer-reviews) states that the additional content created by customer reviews drive 10% to 50% more traffic to an ecommerce site and conversions by 10%.

The Take Away

Consumer reviews will improve your ecommerce site’s conversion rate. Don’t worry about controlling the reviews. Rather, keep in mind that ecommerce shoppers are not looking specifically for positive reviews; rather they want to find the most authentic reviews. Therefore negative reviews, a marketer’s nightmare, give your site and your company a powerful level of credibility with your customers (as well as providing essential feedback on how to make your products and services better). Allow customers to review your products and never interfere with what the content of reviews, no matter what they say.