Going through the buying process on website can be excruciating for me. I cannot identify the product's quality, test its functionality, or compare the size from a digital image.

Further obscuring my thought process are the weird methods of presentation. One site offers product descriptions that are the same for every item in one category, another compares sizes in terms of money, but not with paper bills.

How should a careful consumer like me choose? Yeah, I can speak to a customer service rep, which is helpful, but more time-consuming than anything else. Understanding insights from previous shoppers who may have the same needs and worries as I do is priceless: all hail customer-written reviews.

There are good and bad things to product reviews, not only for buyers like me, but also for the business itself.

The Good:
  • Provides potential buyers with a sense of security by reading about others who have bought and experienced the products
  • Provides merchandising teams with an awareness focusing on design and functionality that is important to the buyer
  • Better marketing and merchandising
  • Provides insight into certain applications of use
  • More sales and fewer returns
  • Helps marketing team and writers describe products based on general use and wanted features of products asked by buyers
  • Increases credibility of business by allowing users to speak their minds
  • Uncovers the great products to buyers that are not described in the original product descriptions
  • Offers extra resources to customers that can better the total product experience, possibly lowering return rates
  • Sorting by product ratings
  • Offers a way to promote products based on customer reviews
The Bad:
  • Buyers can be slowed down by reading customer reviews, keeping them from buying
  • Gives disgruntled buyers the right to publish harmful or destructive information
  • Seems extraneous if review was posted three years ago
  • Demands resources to monitor reviews
  • Provides buyers with a twisted impression of a product if there is only a single review, especially if it's not encouraging
The Ugly:
  • By having your customers offer reviews of purchased products, businesses can up the number of reviews on their sites. Usually, this angle will lead to a credible representation of quality and practicality.
  • These requirements will engross customers and express the business owners wish to better the shopping experience.
  • More refined systems have capabilities to alleviate negative product reviews. A few features give permission to certain reviewers so they can rate product reviews, add their own comments to reviews, and flag improper comments.
  • If you want to create fresh content and display the background of hardcore reviewers, personal info like age, gender, and hobbies pertinent to the product might be shown next to their username to specify the complexity and sharpness of their history.
  • Links to other relevant products may offer a better perspective of the preferences, such as other reviews posted by buyers on Amazon.com.
  • Also, reviewers may be ranked or given custom profiles to signify integrity. Other neat features let the reviewer upload personal photos, videos, and the option to share their reviews on social sites like Digg, Twitter, and Facebook.
If you are business is not equipped to handle customer-generated reviews, try to implement these alternatives:
  • Meticulous product descriptions that specifies the best use of products, levels of value, and unique features.
  • Customer testimonials and full money back guarantees to make the customers feel confident in the buy.