Today, in this present age everything seems to be ruled by the virtual world. Once it was a time when we had to go to a shop or showroom to buy a particular product, but now with the change of both time and situation, we simply have the option to buy anything from the virtual shop through internet and on line shopping ideas. While the showcasing of the different products creates strong impulse upon the visitors, the real online shopping decision depends largely on the opinions and remarks posted by previous customers. A visitor who has almost no real idea about either the seller or the quality of the product depends upon these remarks before making the buying decision. They believe that these remarks by other customers, though they are personally unknown, will still guide them as these people are on the same boat.

Joshua Porter in his book titled Designing for the Social Web has described this human attitude as “Amazon effect”. He has observed that normally most of the online buyers prefer to shop from Amazon.com. The reason for this is that besides from being one of the best shopping portals, Amazon includes opinions and remarks of previous buyers which are trustworthy. The visitors or potential customers always want to know more about the real product, its utility and quality. They don’t just wish to carry away by glittering advertisements.

EFFECTS: Positive and Negative
Just like Amazon’s full proved technique, feedback from previous customers’ may also be helpful to you. These comments from previous buyers may create several positive effects upon the visitors’ mind and provoke them to buy the product. Therefore information, or ornamental advertisements whatever you add to showcase a particular product, conscious people understands that these advertisements are however honestly portrayed are deemed to be biased. But on the contrary good comments and stories posted by previous buyers seem to be more reliable to visitors. Visitors come to know about the genuine utility of a product, and get the real boost to buy a product.

Case study features that Hayneedle (previously known as Netshops), increased its sales to almost more than 25% after they started displaying user feedback. This percentage can be even higher according to PowerReviews. They are of the opinion that both reviews and ratings are very useful in generating sales.

But there is general fear that negative remarks may hamper the sales at the same time. But this fear though, natural, is not so concerning as it has been noticed that satisfied customers desire to post comments rather than unsatisfied ones. Still if there are some negative remarks on the feedback or reviews, and if that influences sales, there is nothing to worry about as the best products will certainly fetch good remarks and only mediocre products may have a few bad comments. Overall it has been seen that good remarks wins over the negative feedback. Therefore be sure that reviews and ratings will be helpful as a marketing strategy.

Again John McAtee who is Google’s retail industry director is of the opinion that negative feedback is also necessary to prove the point that the reviews, ratings and customers’ comments are not fake but original. People know it well that no product can be score perfect 10; therefore potential customers want to understand what drawbacks a particular product may have. If they find from the reviews that the drawbacks are negligible and may happen to any product, they will be inclined to buy your product. Remember strong impulse, desire to buy a product and greed factor are more powerful than negative thoughts and so potential customers will read the good comments more to realize and console oneself that the desired product is indeed good and there is appoint in buying it.

Again it has been noticed that if someone has written a negative comment due to some grudge or intentionally to malign a product, many other customers who have bought it will come up with positive comments and this is approved case. A brand loyalty develops when a customer is satisfied with a particular branded product. Negative remarks will also help you to distinguish which products are better accepted by the customers and what products should be withdrawn. It has been highly recommended by marketing gurus that it is always better to withdraw a product if it lacks something or if customers are not satisfied with the product. More R&D on the product will certainly make the product more efficient and customer friendly. It may be re launched at a later period with the modifications and new package. All these will develop your goodwill and professional attitude. Another point is that young customers wish to read latest customer posts as new editions of the most products come within short periods and potential customers want information about the latest edition products.

There are few points to keep in mind. Just like as Amazon does, put all your comments in one single page so that it is easier to be crawled by search engines like Google and Yahoo. People dislike waiting for the second page to come up rather they prefer scrolling down and read the contents of a page. It may also occur that competitors out of revenge and wishing to malign your goodwill may come to your website and post fake comments. Therefore to check this type of things and develop your own defense mechanism, try to moderate the review section regularly and invite people to discuss their any concern about any posted review. Moderating review is indeed a very useful tool to interact with the customers directly and also to fight competitors. Remember never to delete comments as you might unknowingly delete a positive comment. It is always better to just deal with untrue posts and even better if you post an answer to those comments. This will clarify everything to the visitors. Your honest clarification will not only be an answer to the negative posts but will enhance your credibility before your loyal customers. Always try to remain transparent. Your loyal customers will be on your side and they will oust all negative propaganda ob behalf of you. Your loyal customer group is your strength. Try to develop a good and loyal customer group and interact with them if possible. You may phone your customer to know about the product he had bought and ask him about his satisfaction. After sales, customer satisfaction audit is a very useful tool in building up a loyal customer group.

Now let us focus on ratings and reviews and how it will be easier for you to help users to provide good feedback and share it with new visitors and potential customers. We will discuss about ratings, reviews and interactions and how they enable you to provide better service. Involving users can be done in many ways and we will be discussing them here. If you understand our point and practice them accordingly it will simply boost your business prospects. Remember these are all advices. You will need more strategies to motivate people. You may use contests, coupons, incentives, slogan competition, prizes and email campaigns. These will help more people to know about you and your products.

Ratings
Ratings are an important way to understand what the people are thinking about your product. As people can rate a product easily, even sometimes without logging in, they prefer to rate a product, enabling you to understand the customers satisfactory level. Therefore it is always advisable to keep the rating system conventional and simple. It is a useful tool and more ratings are welcome. To make your rating system more effective and simple try to use the conventional 1-5 scale or thumb sup/ thumbs down for the voting purpose. Users are mostly accustomed with these two types of voting. Again a few websites allow tech savvy users to add value or symbols and emoticons to rate. Stars may also be used but consciously. Creative voting might confuse a new user, therefore think before you act.

Look so that people can rate with just one mouse click and light up the empty symbols or stars on mouse over to say that the area is clickable to vote. You may ask your visitors to describe the product by voting on “Perfect”, “Good”, “Average” and “Miserable”.

The visitors also need to find your voting zone at one instance, therefore use the traditional words “Rate the Product” in bold and attractive way. Clear straightforward words are more acceptable to visitors. Mention precisely what the users will rate. Is it the brand, product or the customer service…? Ensure that the ratings are easily understandable to new users too. Many voters want to understand as who have voted previously or what the current results are. Hence it is better that you show the previous results in a different color, thank the user for his rating and at the same time lock the current user from voting again.

Mention about the number of votes each rating has got because more voting from users provoke people to vote and rate your product. More voting is what you will seek for. Like iTunes, you may display the rating tallies in a small table. Never allow the users to disbelief the rating system. Ratings also should be displayed on the main product description page and hence allow the users to either filter or order by rating on the search result pages. Keep the ratings very near the product title to allow quick scanning. As the information is the main thing, enable users to find it easily.

Getting Reviews
Reviews are another helpful tool in understanding the customer behavior and how they are seeing your product. Getting reviews is quite an easy task though at the beginning not many people will be eager to review or spend time on writing. But be patient, some people will indeed write someday. You may add a “write a review” button near the rating button so that people may look at it. If there are product variations or editions don’t forget to indicate which version of the product they are reviewing.

You may make a strategy to contact your buyer via email and request for a review. But remember when to contact. If your product is a book then give the buyer necessary time to read the book or if it is an electronic gadget, you may request for a review just after a few days. Provide some discount or benefits to motivate the customer to write a review. A good review is an asset for future sales, remember. You may also add a list of pros and cons and request the customer just to select his choices or allow them to suggest something if they wish. Before publishing the reviews moderate them. You may hint or give an example of a good review to your customers as they might know little about product reviews.

Let your reviewers preview and edit their views before submitting. Give them a chance to add, modify or correct mistakes in the write up. Provide the reviewer correct information as when their article will be published and whether there is any condition of moderation. The customer who has reviewed a product will be eagerly waiting for his article and name to appear in the website. He will also show his article to his family and friends which will be fruitful to you for future sales. Try to provoke customers to write reviews. Spend something for this marketing strategy and it will fetch good results. Do believe.

How to Display Reviews
It may easily happen that you are getting many reviews. Therefore be prepared to display the reviews properly and in n easy manner. Visitors to your website should not be eager to read unless everything is well planned. Making a strategy to provoke and kindly force your visitors to read these write ups is quite tricky and needs to be masterminded affair. You can display your ratings in numerous fashions. There may be an overall overview of these ratings focusing an average score or single reviews and ratings.

Reviews should be dated and the name and email or other contact of the reviewer be mentioned clearly. It may happen that a potential customer might contact the reviewer for more information. Details of the reviewer, his professional qualifications and contact information besides a photograph will make everything trustworthy and positive. Visitors should not get a chance to think that the reviews are false and have been dishonestly posted to provoke. Earning a good impression about a brand and goodwill is a wealth. You may also highlight the top or best reviewers on the side bar. It will not only create a positive impact upon visitors but also give the reviewers fame and credit. You may also have an option to display all the reviews of a particular reviewer on a sub page.

It is also important to understand if the visitors find the reviews useful and helpful. You may add a “like” or “dislike” button under each review and try to find out the result. Let the readers also comment on the reviews. It will not only make you realize the quality and usefulness of your reviews but also understand what lacks and what the visitors want to know more. There should also be the options to sort and filter reviews. Displaying ratings and reviews have no parallel. For good e commerce business these strategies have far reaching results and prospects.

Interaction Generated By Reviews
There are many people who have a knack of reading reviews and commenting on them. If readers can comment on the reviews, it will strike two birds at the same time. Firstly, reviewers will be more attentive and focused on writing the article and secondly visitors will have a chance to interact on the website. Interaction with people is the custom of the day. Social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook have changed the world and social interaction is now more easy and demanding. If there arises any question from the visitors, do give a reply to clarify.

Voting the review may be another important strategy. It may enhance the trustworthy and quality of your reviews and your credibility on a whole. Remember reviews are of your product and good or bad remarks or visitors comment everything is about your credibility and goodwill. These are third party activities and promotion strategy; therefore you will have to be attentive all the time. Voting on reviews allows more people to involve on your website. Voting, remarks on reviews and liking or disliking everything are part of your marketing strategy which will enable you to get more sales. There may be negative remarks but rather than deleting them do clarify or answer officially to counter the allegations. Remember though the world has become more and more inclined towards dishonesty and lies, your honest behavior will prove fruitful. It is a strange psychology that, those people who themselves are dishonest and take shelter of lies, always wish others to be honest!

Comment threads for your reviews can be easily made into real conversations. It will help to find out the pros and cons of a particular product in much more natural manner. Add a “Respond to this link” button.

Conclusion
For E-Commerce websites it is very important to keep the product pages alive with regular updates, reviews and ratings. Your website should always try to involve more and more loyal customers to comment and vote. Let everyone submit their remarks. Don’t worry about negative remarks. Remember that there is always a silver lining behind a grey cloud. Both positive and negative remarks have their own contributions in e commerce web business. Once you are done with the reviews, try to add a FAQ section, video reviews, and product discussion forums and so on. There are lots of options available nowadays. Be preparing to add more innovative ways. You may also create your page on Facebook and Twitter and allow your visitors to follow you there and “like” your page. These are beneficial because all these let you to interact with your potential or loyal customers.

Both ratings and reviews therefore are significant tools for successful e commerce business. Blank reviews or complex forms are acute obstacles, so avoid them. You have to remember that in order to survive in this cut throat competitive market, your keen interest and positive attitude will make all the difference. Always try to interact with your customers and engage every sort of latest technologies or interactive ways. Creating impulse and making a sale to happen needs lots of creative thoughts and attitude. So be cheerful and enjoy the e commerce business. It is truly a world of possibilities and prosperity.