Mar 14, 20197 min read

How Customer Reviews Will Help You Sell More.

Kristian Borglund headshot

by Kristian Borglund

Reviews can generate sales like almost nothing else. If you still haven’t tapped into the full potential of this conversion-boosting mechanism, reflect on these words for a moment: “Reviews have an incredible effect on conversions. Our sales statistics show that products with an average rating – even below average – convert better than products with no reviews at all.”

These words come from Mattias Nahlin, chief marketing officer of the fast-growing e-commerce company Pierce, which runs the 24MX online store (for motocross enthusiasts) across 17 local markets in Europe. Also in Pierce’s portfolio are XL Moto (for bikers on the road) and Sledstore (for snow-riders in the Nordic countries).

Selling spare parts and equipment to motor enthusiasts has led to 800,000 customers in ten years. 24MX alone, the first store that was launched, has tripled its revenues in the last three years – and the introduction of reviews at product level has been a big contributing factor to that growth.

“Before we just had reviews of our site, and of our general shopping experience,” says Mattias Nahlin.
“Our decision to put the effort into product reviews was an important part of our strategy to become a destination rather than a transactional engine. We want to be top-of-mind when people think about their hobby or want to know more about a product category or a specific product. All user-generated content contributes to creating a community. It builds trust, and it’s also valuable from an SEO perspective.”

Reviews are not optional if you want to grow

There are plenty of convincing statistics on the power of reviews. For example, Spiegel Research Center concluded in 2017 that displaying reviews can drive up conversion by 270 percent. That same research also revealed that nearly 95 percent of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
If you happen to be one of those merchants who has so far skipped over reviews altogether, Mattias Nahlin has a simple message just for you:
“Think again.”

Having no reviews at all can severely hurt your business. As you can see in this study done by marketing agency Fan and Fuel, 35 percent say they are less likely to buy when no customer reviews are available:

So yes, we know that reviews lead to more sales. But, if done right, they also bring better SEO, a sense of community and belonging for your customers, and – of course – a more helpful shopping experience.

How reviews can create a better shopping experience both short-term and long-term

Pierce and 24MX are using reviews in lots of constructive ways. One very specific example is how they let customers rate the size of a product:

“By asking customers to review the size of the product, we and other customers get to know if a product is larger than they thought, or smaller. That is valuable information. It helps customers choose the right size, which means that they are happier with their purchase, we get fewer returns, and it’s good for the environment.”

Here’s what that can look like:

As you can see in this and other reviews, customers are asked to share their experience level, how frequently they ride, and what kind of rider they are. That information gives some context to who the reviewer is, which adds relevance and makes the reviews feel more personal.

Short-term, the reviews guide customers in their buying decision; long-term, the whole store improves.
“Whenever a product gets a bad rating, that’s something we need to look into. If the product is an external brand we can give that feedback and ask them to fix the problem, or simply stop selling the product. If it’s our own brand we look at the product more closely and either fix the product itself or improve the information about it, making it more accurate.”

When you have more than 100,000 products in your store and tens of thousands of reviews, like 24MX does, it can be a daunting task to keep track of everything that is being written.
“We do smart searches, focused on products that get low ratings, and of course we keep an extra close eye on reviews of the top sellers.”

The secret to getting those great reviews coming in

When 24MX introduced product level reviews, one of the first questions was: How do we get customers to submit their review?

“In the very beginning we offered a discount code to incentivise customers, but soon we discovered that’s not necessary. Floods of reviews are being submitted now, thanks to how engaged these people are in their hobby. Many riders identify more strongly as a biker than they do as their occupation, for instance, or even as a parent.”

All that’s needed to collect reviews is this automatic follow-up email which is sent out once customers have received their purchase:

Once the receiver clicks to rate the product, their review tool Yotpo takes care of the rest. According to Power Reviews, up to 80 percent of e-commerce reviews originate from follow-up emails motivating the customers to review their purchase.

One critical aspect of reviews is, obviously, the rating given. For 24MX, ratings are pretty high on average:
“4.5 out of 5. And for our own brand products even higher – 4.6 – which is of course really nice to see. In the beginning I was a bit surprised, to be honest. I thought ratings would be more like the normal distribution curve, spreading out on the scale.”

Besides the fact that they identify the products that score low, and deal with them, Mattias isn’t sure why most customers are so generous.
“I guess that’s how we humans work. It’s very hard to find an Über driver that scores less than 4.8. Maybe it’s our social code to rate high; we are conditioned to be kind in these situations.”

The good ratings might also originate from brand appreciation, being that social hub for enthusiasts.
“We have 20 percent engagement rate on our Instagram posts, which is extremely high. We give the channel lots of love, posting content many times every day based on what our community talks about.”

The next step: Making reviews count even more

The next step for Pierce and 24MX is to make reviews even more meaningful for customers, and for business growth.
“There are tools to create ads based on the most exciting reviews that we haven’t utilised yet, as well as filtering by product reviews, allowing customers to answer questions about products, and other things. We will also look into automated Google translations for reviews across our 17 local markets in Europe, so that customers in one country can read and understand what customers in other countries have written, similar to how online services like Hotels.com work today.”

“We are also going to look into how we can improve the review attributes to make them more specific for each product category level. Someone who wants to buy a helmet is going to be interested in different aspects of the product than someone looking for new brakes, for example,” says Mattias Nahlin.