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.

Using Your Consumer Product Review Forum to Increase Sales

If you have implemented an easy access consumer product review forum onto your site to allow your customers to review your products, you are among the most brilliant marketers in the business. Why? Nothing sells products like the word of mouth evaluation style of a consumer product review.

The latest and greatest in Internet marketing techniques is viral marketing. Why? Because viral marketing takes good old fashioned word of mouth out into cyberspace. One person tells another, who tells three more, who tells six more, etc, etc, etc. Now you have an unlimited network of people who know about your product, which means you have an unlimited network of potential customers!

Of course, in order to be able to properly promote your product they have to be able to say what they like about it-and what they don’t. No one knows more about a product than the person who buys it and puts it into action in their day to day life, which means that these are the people you want out there teaching others about your products. How are you going to do that? Through a consumer product review.

By implementing a consumer product review on your site you are allowing your consumers to get in there and be 100% honest about the ups and downs of your products. This is a tremendous asset when you are selling over the Internet because the very nature of the Internet means that your customers don’t have the chance to view your products first hand, or to take them for a test drive on their own. They’re always going to approach a sale with caution, because they can never be sure whether they’re buying a high quality product or paying for junk.

When they have a consumer product review from a real consumer to read, on the other hand, they have the opportunity to hear how a product really works when you take it down off of its virtual shelf and put it into action. Although they’re getting the news secondhand, finding out the product really works for other people will go a long way toward building their confidence in your products and encouraging them to buy.

Don’t be afraid of having a negative review on your site. Some of the most well known shopping sites on the Internet have consumer product review forums (conveniently matched up with their products to keep consumers from having to go searching), you’ll find almost as many negative reviews as you will positive. This doesn’t hurt their sales.

As a matter of fact, it’s exactly the opposite. All consumers are perfectly aware of the fact that only a fool thinks he can keep 100% of the people happy, 100% of the time. A company that’s willing to post the thoughts of that small percentage of the population that isn’t happy is an honest one, which is what consumers really want when they’re making a decision about where they want to spend their money.

A Hair Loss Product Review Made Easy

Hair loss products have flooded the market these days. Even when you are just trying to do your grocery shopping, you can find hair loss products on a few isles. But with all this over saturation of hair products it can be hard to know what you should pick. You want to make sure that you get a product that will give you the best results yet fit into your budget. You know going with the most expensive product does not mean it is the best, but the cheapest may leave you feeling like you got what you paid for. This is where it comes in handy to do a hair product review before you buy.

Before you buy just about any product, you rationalize the purchase in your mind. You ask yourself how you would use the product, how it would improve your life and is it really worth the money. It is especially important to do a hair product review before making a decision on your hair product. The first thing you need to consider when buying a hair loss product is if it will treat the type of hair loss you suffer from. There are many different types of loss of hair, caused by very different reasons. If you decide to go with a product not intended to treat your specific hair loss problem you will be disappointed. You will wonder why you got little, if any results. This could even cause you to write a bad review of this product, which may actually be very good at treating hair loss for the type it was designed to treat.

Once you know if this product will treat your hair loss problem, you need to think about if this is really something you are going to be able to do. Consider the fact that with most hair treatments, once you stop taking them, your hair loss problems go right back to where they were. So make sure this is a product you will be fine with for the rest of your life. Consider your other options. You can choose from pills, creams, lotions and sprays for your scalp, even laser therapy products.

You also want to make sure that part of your hair loss product review includes doing your homework on the product you plan to use. It is good to look at as many reviews on the product you are looking to use as you can get your hands on. This will really give you knowledge on whether or not this product would be a good fit for you. You should consider the side effects that may be caused by the product and any risks involved. You should also discuss the treatment plan you want to use with your doctor and see what he or she thinks. They will be able to tell you if this is a good idea for you and if not, recommend something that is a better fit for your hair loss needs.

Getting to Know the Products You Buy Online With Product Reviews

When you are shopping online for deals, sometimes you run into the fact that there is hardly any information about what you are looking for. Sometimes you have to look all over the place and perhaps the places that you have found that sell what you are looking for, aren’t the names trustworthy enough for you. Well, with reviews from people who have already bought, paid and used the products themselves from those vendors, you can get very good advice on the things that you want to spend your money on.

Shopping Online is the Future

People all over the world are turning to shopping online simply because they are busy and have full lives that leave them little time to go store hopping to find the best deals that they can on something. Instead, they have to truly trust the brand names that they know and love to get them online. When you read over these reviews, you can truly get a sense of how something works and functions, the kinds of problems that people have had with it and many other factors that you might never be able to get from a sales person in a store.

Getting the Truth about a Product

Those people in the stores want to make their commission and they aren’t going to tell you that something you are interested in falls apart after only a few days or that it has been recalled in some states. They just want to make money, so it’s much better to get good reviews online to know that you can actually spend the money that you want and get exactly what you are looking for.

Saving Time and Money

People really want to save both time and money and doing their shopping online, no matter what the occasion. If it’s for a gift or if it’s for something around the house, you will be able to get truthful and honest help and guidance reading other people’s reviews of the products that you are interested in. Imagine being able to find out that your favorite product has a really bad review and being able to find a replacement to it because someone else had the same issue, so you get exactly what you want after all.

Honesty is the Best Policy

No fancy talk, no crap from sales people; instead, you get honest insight and find out the truth about new and old favorites that you might have overlooked in your shopping experiences otherwise. So, no matter if you are a pro or if you are new to shopping online, you will truly be able to find out what you want to know through these Product Reviews.