When it comes to converting casual browsers into eager buyers, one tactic can help prompt shoppers to action: customer reviews.
In fact, 49% of shoppers say they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. That’s why encouraging customer reviews is vital to the success of your retail business.
But how exactly do you encourage customers to leave reviews? Here, we’ll tackle the ins and outs of customer reviews, including how to get them, the different types of reviews, and real-life examples.
Table of Contents
Why are customer reviews important for retailers?
Customer reviews help your business in several ways, from helping your target shoppers discover your retail store to convincing on-the-fence buyers to purchase from you.
Let’s look at these benefits one by one:
Gain your target buyers’ trust
According to Global Web Index, almost half of consumers in North America use online customer reviews when they are actively searching for more information about a brand, product, or service.
Buyers typically seek reviews from like-minded consumers or other shoppers in situations similar to their own, so they can gather the information that’s relevant to them.
Not only do buyers browse reviews, but they also trust them. According to the same source as above, 31.2% of consumers in North America say they trust what online reviews say about products.
For example, if a customer has fragrance-sensitive skin, he or she is likely going to look for and trust reviews from other customers in the same boat.
So if you aren’t taking steps to get customer reviews, you’re failing to make the most of a free tool that can easily help you earn your buyers’ trust.
Increase your store’s foot traffic
78% of consumers say they actively find information about local businesses online more than once a week. These folks include tourists, people new to a neighborhood, and ready-to-buy shoppers who are frequently searching for retailers near them.
The Google suggestions that turn up as a result of these “near me” searches help shoppers quickly decide which stores to visit. And since customer reviews show up next to your Google Business Profile in Search and Maps, they help you:
- Show up in Google’s local search. Fresh and frequently received reviews on your Google Business Profile, website, and other third-party review sites such as Yelp are essential factors for improving local SEO.
- Persuade shoppers to visit your retail store. 88% of consumers say reviews persuade them to discover local businesses. About half also say they’d travel farther and pay more to a business featuring better (and more authentic) reviews.
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Build social proof
Customer reviews also help retailers build social proof. Humans tend to look to groups or communities to validate their decisions.
A customer might be interested in a product but hesitant to buy. Customer reviews can provide the “social proof” he or she needs to validate their initial interest and make the decision to purchase.
When a customer writes a review, that story can act as convincing feedback from an unbiased source in a way your product description alone just can’t do.
No matter how detailed and honest you are, you clearly have a vested interest in presenting your products in the best light. You’re a retailer who wants to turn a profit, after all.
And if you’re still a little on the fence about allowing—much less encouraging—customer reviews for fear of giving a few sour grapes a stage, consider that even negative reviews can be valuable for your business. According to a study from BrightLocal, 70% of consumers are more likely to use a business that responds to negative reviews.
Improve your SEO
When it comes to SEO, Google always puts the customer first. Your customer is Google’s user. Google takes cues from what its users want, believe, and trust.
For this reason, if your customers leave reviews (good or bad), Google uses this as a signal to rank your website.
Here’s how good reviews will help you rank higher on the SERPs:
- Increasing your click-through rate. People are more likely to click to visit your site if it’s associated with positive reviews
- Building social media engagement. While social media is not a direct ranking factor, it can help with SEO, because posts do show up in search results. Quality content is important for SEO, and customer reviews are a perfect example of authentic content. Integrating customer reviews into your social media strategy will encourage more people to talk about you, resulting in better search result rankings
- Decreasing website bounce rates. When shoppers read reviews online and learn more about your business from existing customers, they’re likely to spend more time on your website, and hopefully convert.
How to get customers to leave reviews
Before you can leverage the many benefits of using customer reviews to grow your sales, claim your business online and on social media.
Start with creating a Google My Business profile. It’s free and makes it easier to connect with local customers on Google Search and Maps.
You can create a listing that displays more than just reviews, too. List store information like contact details, a link to your website, store hours, a map, photos, videos, coupons, and more.
Also, if you have retail stores in multiple locations, set up different web pages for each location. This way, the branch closest to a potential shopper shows up first to them.
While you’re at it, set up your business on social media and third-party sites that encourage positive consumer reviews. These include Yelp, Facebook and other social sites, and search engines like Bing and Yahoo.
This is an essential first step for making it easy for happy customers to write reviews wherever it’s easiest for them.
Once that’s done, use these proven tactics to encourage customers to leave reviews:
1. Ask for customer reviews
Don’t assume your shoppers, even the most loyal ones, will take the initiative to write a review for you.
Prompting them to share their thoughts goes a long way, though. And it works, with 60% of customers saying they usually leave reviews when asked.
Pro tip: Before asking for customer reviews, educate your audience about their importance to your business. You can do this in the post-purchase email follow-up you send to customers. Tell them how their review can help you build trust and grow your business, and chances are they’ll be on board to support you.
Find polite and unique ways to ask shoppers to write reviews for products they purchase. If you’re hesitant to ask, try changing the way you frame your request.
Depending on your brand’s voice, here some thought starters to ask for customers reviews in a variety of personable, friendly ways:
- Leave feedback
- Share your thoughts
- Tell us about your experience
- How did you like your purchase?
For exactly how to ask for reviews and which channels to use for asking for reviews, here are a few ideas:
Ask for reviews in person
This works best for asking reviews from repeat customers since you already know they’ve had a chance to use your product(s).
Strike up a conversation at checkout and kindly ask for a review. Once they agree, tell customers where they can leave their review. It’s also helpful to display your business cards at the counter so you can give them to shoppers to find you online to write a review.
Another idea is to train sales associates to ask for reviews from repeat customers with whom they’ve established a good rapport.
You can also ask for reviews in the events you host in your store. These are great for learning about your customers, connecting with them, and asking for reviews from regular shoppers.
Ask for reviews over SMS
If SMS is part of your retail marketing strategy, it’s the perfect channel to ask for customer feedback.
Create an automated text message that gets sent one to two weeks after the customer receives their order. Be sure to include a direct link to the product they bought so it’s easy for them to leave a review using their smartphone.
Ask for reviews via email
You can also create automated post-purchase emails that are personalized to each customer, and trigger them one to two weeks after a shopper receives their purchase.
In this email you can say something like:
In addition to post-purchase emails, incorporate customer review campaigns in your email marketing strategy.
For example, once a month or once a quarter, send a general email campaign to everyone who has purchased from your store and include details about where and how they can leave customer reviews.
Here’s a real-life example of Graza using email to source customer testimonials:
In your email, make sure you share all the different places customers can review you—your site, Google Business listing, Facebook reviews, or other third-party sites. This helps customers pick the channel most convenient to them, making it easy for them to review your business.
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Ask for reviews upon order delivery
For online orders, you can include a postcard in the package asking for a review. This way, the customer is reminded to go online and write a review about their experience with your business and the products they purchased.
You can also add a handwritten note, thanking customers for shopping with you and asking for their feedback.
Ask for reviews on social media
Once you’ve received a few testimonials or quotes, you can post them on Instagram. This helps you both share social proof with on-the-fence buyers following your retail store and encourage existing customers to write reviews.
The best part? Asking for reviews on social media is easy. Simply include a brief note in the caption that says something like, “Do you want to share your review as well and be featured? Send us an email at [insert email address] or a direct message here.”
Another way to get reviews via social media is to respond to posts that people tag your business in and ask them if you can share their content about your business on your profile. Here’s Knix doing just that:
You can also send them a direct message asking if they could take a few minutes to write an online review and include a link to the product page, so the process is quick and easy.
2. Automate your customer review process
A surefire way to get more customer reviews is to create a review process that helps you automate asking for reviews and scales with your business.
It also makes getting testimonials and reviews a regular part of your business operations and process, helping you build social proof. Remember: more reviews equal more proof, translating to building more trust in your retail business.
It’s also important to consistently get new reviews, as outdated ones don’t encourage new shoppers to convert to paying customers as well.
Here are a few ways to incorporate asking for reviews into your daily business practices:
- Add review links to thank-you pages or order confirmation emails
- Integrate asking for reviews into your email and SMS automation campaigns
- Train your sales and customer service staff to always ask for customer feedback
- Include three to five testimonial posts per month in your social media strategy to encourage other customers to leave reviews
- Regularly remind loyal customers to leave reviews. You can also create a review program. Sephora, for example, gives its customers redeemable points for writing product reviews
- Add review links to digital receipts. They show an average open rate of up to 80% and a 15% average click-through rate, making them an effective way to source reviews
Whatever strategy you choose for getting customer reviews, be consistent with it. Keep tabs on how well it’s generating reviews and adapt it as necessary.
3. Reduce friction for customer reviews
Including a system for reviews within your ecommerce site is another way to encourage customer reviews.
You can always look up different retailers’ online stores to see how they set up their reviews. Two important points to be mindful of here:
- Include a star-rating system (since consumers feel that’s an important measure)
- Create an easy-to-fill form. This reduces friction and allows you to get detailed reviews that are helpful to customers
Banana Republic, for instance, features a simple “write a review” button on its product pages.
When a shopper clicks on it, they get an easy-to-fill form with entries featuring a brief explanation that tells why each detail is needed—helping reduce friction further. The form also prompts shoppers to give a star rating.
Another example that sets a good standard for retailers is Amazon’s customer review system. It includes a star system, along with written reviews, and search functionality that allows shoppers to read various types of reviews.
You can include your own calls to action on product pages, within your confirmation pages and emails, or in receipts and invoices. Along with making it easy to leave reviews for specific products, make the page where customers can do so easy to find.
Two more ways to reduce friction to make it easy for customers to review you:
1. Ask customers for reviews where they are (a.k.a. get mobile)
Since more and more people shop from their mobile devices, making it easy to write reviews on smartphones is another way to increase your chances of getting more reviews.
But make sure the review you want customers to write lines up with what’s realistic for thumb-based typing. Using a place to respond and leave a star rating, for example, is an easy task to perform on a smartphone.
You can also get creative and look to gather not just written reviews but also data points from surveys. This will allow you to write web copy you can use to set alongside customer reviews, while still making it easy to leave feedback on mobile.
Say, for example, you send out a three-question, yes-or-no answer survey:
- Are you satisfied with your product?
- Would you recommend this to a friend?
- Would you buy this again?
You can then tally responses and include the data on your product’s sales page, as Naked Wines does:
It’s not a written review—but it can supplement longer-form feedback provided by other customers. You can include a field to ask for comments, which can then be published as customer reviews.
2. Make writing reviews simple with templates
We’ve all been there. You want to write a review, but you’re short on time and don’t really know what to say. Providing your customers with a template they can plug a few words into or even a few points to spark ideas can encourage them to follow through with leaving a review.
You could include a few ideas in a follow-up email like this:
4. Check out the Shopify apps for customer reviews
There’s an abundance of Shopify apps you can use to add product review functions to your ecommerce site.
Here are a few to get you started:
Shopify Product Reviews is a free app to add reviews and ratings to your product pages. It also gives you the option to customize the rating stars’ size, color, and alignment.
Stamped.io Product Reviews
Stamped Product Reviews & UGC is a complete, easy-to-use review app that lets you collect and display SEO and mobile-optimized text and video-based reviews on your site.
With its custom form feature, you can set up review forms to collect customer reviews alongside star ratings and details of products purchased.
Using its AI feature, you can also easily moderate reviews to publish only the best ones. Its AI helps you analyze reviews too, making it easy to track negative reviews so you can respond to them quickly.
And, finally, the review app also helps you automate review generation using its SMS review request and in-email review form.
Loox Product Reviews & Photos
Loox Product Reviews & Photos is another paid Shopify app that allows you to gather and display product reviews on your home page, product pages, and cart. It gives you multiple options to display reviews including list, grid, and carousel formats.
Plus, you can automate review generation with the app using its review request email feature. Use the app to schedule emails asking customers for reviews, based on when the product is delivered to them.
You can also automate review request reminders and incentivize customers to review your products by offering them discounts.
Judge.me Product Reviews
Lastly, there’s Judge.me Product Reviews for displaying and automating review collection—a paid app with a freemium version.
It lets you display reviews in a variety of ways using customizable widgets. On top of text-based reviews, use the app to collect photo and video reviews. You can also moderate and respond to reviews, and schedule review request emails using this app.
5. Follow up on customer review requests
Customers will likely leave reviews weeks or even months after they made the initial purchase.
With Shopify, your customers’ contact information—whether they bought from you in-store or online—is readily available in one centralized place.
6. Offer incentives in exchange for customer reviews
Lastly, encourage customers to write reviews by rewarding them for doing so.
Incentivizing your shoppers this way makes sense, and it’s fair—after all, it takes time and effort to write a review, so receiving some sort of reward for doing so is likely to add to the overall positive experience they had with your brand.
Some ideas worth exploring:
- Offer coupons or discount codes to encourage buyers to share their feedback publicly
- Host periodic drawings and giveaways and choose a winner from the pool of customers who submitted reviews in a certain timeframe
Nordstrom, for example, incentivizes customers to review its products by enrolling them in a monthly gift card giveaway.
Remember: rewarding customers to share their genuine experiences with your brand is an acceptable practice. However, buying reviews is not. Make sure your offer is simply for writing a review, not for writing a review with an angle or spin you requested.
Customer review examples
There are many different formats for customer reviews. Let’s look at a few examples:
Quotes and testimonials
One of the most popular forms of customer review is quotes or testimonials from customers. You can mostly spot them on company websites, usually on the homepage.
Here’s an example of an interactive testimonial quotes’ carousel about three-quarters of the way down Thinx’s homepage:
Thinx also attempts to earn more potential customers’ trust by using an exit-intent popup that encourages them to read their reviews:
On the other hand, Muddy Bites features both its customer testimonials and star ratings on the homepage:
Many brands also post customer testimonials on social media or share them via email marketing. Both these tactics help gain prospective customers’ trust and encourage more existing customers to give feedback.
Here’s Dropps sharing testimonial quotes in their email campaign:
And here’s Glossier sharing its reviews on Instagram:
These short quotes about how your products benefit people give your retail business credibility. They also help back up your messaging, making it sound more believable because someone besides you is saying it.
Testimonials require little effort from you and your customers, making them one of the easiest types of customer reviews to manage.
All you need to do is ask your customers to share their shopping experience via email, social media, SMS, or in person. Then it’s up to you to add the quotes to your website and share them through social media.
Online product reviews
Online product reviews help move prospective customers through the online buying process. Many consumers also seek online product reviews for researching items before making an in-store purchase.
Unlike customer testimonials, online product reviews are listed directly on the respective product page and often include stars for ranking. You can use one of the customer reviews Shopify apps to add product review functionalities to your online store.
Here’s an example of an online product review on one of TITOV’s product pages:
The intimates brand offers a limited selection of made-to-order lingerie in a wide range of sizes. It uses online product reviews to build trust and help prospective customers choose products while they’re shopping online.
We asked the CEO and founder, Masha Titova, for a few tips on getting online customer reviews; here’s what we learned:
- Send cold emails and direct messages on social media asking customers to leave a review. Don’t be shy.
- Make it conversational, not robotic. When you ask for a review, also ask if there’s anything they want to see more of from your business.
- Create an automated email flow that triggers a post-purchase request for a product review.
- Offer a free gift in exchange for a review.
“We did a free offer campaign and sent a ‘surprise’ to anyone who wrote a review, and it generated about 50 reviews in 24 hours," shared Masha.
Besides adding product reviews down the page, you can also add star ratings on product pages as mattress brand Casper does.
When a potential shopper scrolls down this page, they see more social proof in the form of a banner that highlights how many customers find the mattress helpful.
Further down, there’s a product review carousel. The interesting bit? It allows shoppers to research reviews using filters. This goes back to our point about customers using reviews to better understand the product they’re looking to purchase.
Also, some brands share product reviews directly on their homepages. For example, Spongellé shares fresh (look at the time stamp) product reviews at the end of its home page.
Review sites like Google and Facebook
According to GWI research, 81% of US consumers say being able to easily find a local retailer through searching online is important to them.
Peer-to-peer review sites are typically one of the first places a new customer goes to for research when they’re considering making an order. That’s why it’s important to round up a few positive reviews and always respond promptly to negative ones.
Here’s an example of Google reviews on Reigning Champ’s GMB listing:
From a retailer’s perspective, customer reviews on third-party review sites like Yelp and Google reviews are great for earning potential customers’ trust. As we noted above, they also positively impact your SEO, making it easier for people to find your business online.
What’s more, reviews on peer-to-peer sites like Facebook and Google can happen organically, making the review process easier for small businesses.
The only catch? You don’t have as much control over these types of reviews. Bad reviews can have a big impact on your business. However, some negative feedback makes the reviews seem more authentic to prospective customers.
Also, with review sites, you can’t edit, delete, or deny reviews, so people don’t worry about whether they’re real or not.
The solution is to promptly respond to these reviews, particularly, if they are negative. For an example, look at how Function of Beauty promptly responds to its reviews:
Social media reviews
The more places you get customer reviews, the higher the chances are of prospective customers gaining trust in your brand and feeling comfortable enough to complete a purchase.
You can also use social media to promote quotes and testimonials or to collect reviews directly on the platform.
Here’s an example of a customer review on TITOV’s business Facebook page:
And on its Instagram:
That said, repurposing customer quotes and online product reviews as content on your Instagram feed helps build credibility. You can also cross-share social posts as Chobani does:
The key here is that real-life customers are aligning with your brand messaging and helping shoppers see the value in your products.
Customer interviews and stories
Storytelling in retail helps engage shoppers by humanizing your brand.
But the stories you tell don’t have to be limited to your brand or product. You can also tell stories about your customer through interviews on your blog. In turn, these stories will serve as a form of customer reviews.
These customer stories and interviews also provide a personal context to your retail business. Rather than getting bombarded with marketing messages from your company, prospective and existing customers get to read stories directly from people who have experience with your brand.
Here is Smalls’ way of telling their customer stories as an example:
For publishing similar customer stories, use these steps:
- Come up with a list of three to five questions to ask your customers
- Add the questions to a Google Form
- Send an email campaign to past customers and include a link to the form
- Make sure to add a section where they can upload a picture and provide their social media handles
- Use their responses to create a Q&A-style blog article
- For each interview, you can add an introduction and conclusion
- Share the blog interview via social media and email marketing (be sure to tag people on social)
Ready to grow your retail business through customer reviews?
Customer reviews are excellent for building social proof to gain your target buyers’ trust. They help increase your store’s foot traffic and also convince uncertain buyers to purchase from you.
But remember: occasionally gathering customer reviews isn’t enough. While it’s a good starting point, you need to eventually automate your review generating process so it’s scalable and so you can collect more fresh customer reviews.
Also, don’t forget to display your positive customer reviews. Be it on your home page, product pages, or social media, share reviews to make the most of this free customer trust-building tool.
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