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Good, clear communication is necessary in any communication channel, and that holds for review sites as much as for any other source of information. Accordingly, retailers increasingly are adopting specific standards and tactics in an attempt to improve the appeal and usefulness of the reviews that appear on their websites, to leverage this important form of word of mouth more effectively.

For example, whereas Amazon allows customers to write as much as they would like, some sites have imposed length limits or edit submissions to highlight key points. Many sites encourage a general organization, such as by providing boxes in which reviewers can enter product pros and cons.

To make the reviews more compelling, some sites allow reviewers to upload dynamic content, such as videos or at least photos of the products they are reviewing. Going beyond simple star ratings, certain sites break reviews down into categories, such that reviewers can assess the products on various features (e.g., color, fit, fabric, customer service). They also can describe themselves, such as by clicking to indicate their age, gender, or expertise with particular products, thereby establishing their credentials for offering the review.

Along with improving the content in these ways, many sites aim to make the information easier to access, such as by offering sorting or search capabilities. For example, Best Buy supports keyword searches, and Kohl’s allows shoppers to organize reviews according to whether they feature pictures or video.

Discussion Question:

  1. What are retailers doing to improve the salience of online reviews to customers?
  2. Which of these practices would be most useful to you?
  3. Does your answer change depending on the type of product you are planning to purchase?

Source: Tom Ryan, Retail Wire, January 3, 2017