The Top 5 Mistakes Ecommerce Businesses Make with Customer Product Reviews

This article originally appeared on The Little Stream Software blog.

The best kind of marketing is free — one person telling another that your product is a must-have. There’s no budget needed, and the trust factor is baked into word-of-mouth publicity.

With product reviews, you can encourage this kind of information swap right on your own website. Just as customers are hovering over the “buy now” button, they can have access to real-life feedback on the product from other customers.

You can’t beat the ease of this process. Invest in an online form or app, and your customers can share detailed information and praise for the products without any additional input from you.

Because these reviews create credibility for such a low cost, many online stores are automating requests for reviews from their customers. This is a fantastic idea, and fairly simple to implement.

But before you start asking every customer for product review requests, take a look at this list of the most common mistakes that online store owners make with reviews.

1. Requesting a review before the product has arrived

Shipping can be a tricky process, so make sure you give your customer time to get the product in their home before your email hits their inbox.

Yes, this seems obvious, but the magic of automation makes it easy to schedule email replies that don’t match delivery schedules. Don’t schedule review requests for a set time like 7 days after the shipping date. Instead, send emails out manually or give customers a couple of weeks to make sure they’ve received their order and started using it.

If you ask too soon, not only will customers have nothing to say about a product they don’t have, they might also start thinking that your shipping process is slow, even if it’s right on time.

2. Requesting a review before customers had time to use the product

Sometimes people buy a leaf blower in January or a down coat in June. If their purchase is out of season, then they might not use it for several weeks or months.

There are a couple of ways to work around this problem.

You can tag these purchases and remind them about a review when the timing is right, giving them time to use the product and get compliments on the item.

Ask for a review about your store’s service instead of the specific product. You can phrase the request to ask for feedback on your ordering process, website functionality, shipping, packaging, etc.

3. Requesting a product review on every item

If you’re selling products that need to be purchased frequently, don’t put those customers on the auto-request list.

Personal care products, vitamins, and other subscription items may be ordered each month or every few months, so asking for reviews every time they order the same product will reflect poorly on you. Ask after the first and third purchase perhaps, but make sure you don’t treat all purchases like stand-alone events.

4. Asking for a review when the customer has already made one

Most of us go out of our way to avoid high-pressure requests in person, so make sure have the same courtesy with your online customers.

Setup a system to track and tag customers who have already made a review on their purchases so you don’t ask them for a review that they’ve already made. This is especially important for luxury businesses that rely on giving their customers a VIP or membership experience.

5. Forgetting to incentive a review

Give your customers a reason to leave a positive review.

Some customers with great experiences with your store will offer their perspective out of the goodness of their hearts — but a small bribe doesn’t hurt.

If you’re willing to extend a small discount or a sample, you’ll increase the positive reviews significantly. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and a small token of gratitude is an excellent way to say thank you to someone who is giving up a few minutes of their time to improve your business.

Get Smart with Automation

When you have the magic of automation at your fingertips, it’s easy to forget about the pitfalls.

The #1 rule of successful ecommerce transactions is to treat customers like real people, even if you’re asking a computer to handle some of the communication responsibilities. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach when dealing with purchases.

Categorizing orders and customer interactions according to season, frequency, location, and follow-up takes only a few additional minutes, but there are measurable pay-offs. Well-targeted and personalized communication helps create loyal customers who are willing to help you and other potential customers find the perfect product at your store.

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