It's common for businesses to express fear at the thought of featuring major benefits to providing reviews: customers want feedback from prior buyers and reviews increase sales.

In a world of near-infinite shopping options, consumers are more dedicated than ever to researching products before making e-commerce payments. According to Econsultancy, 61 percent of shoppers read online reviews before they decide to make a purchase. Customer reviews are essentially word of mouth, Internet Retailer said, and are viewed as advice from an objective party. There's a unique element to reviews that is lost in product descriptions and marketing campaigns.

Reviews will happen on the Internet
As Bazaarvoice, a platform for hosting reviews, pointed out, there's nothing stopping consumers from reviewing your product on the Internet. If your e-commerce store doesn't have a space for customer testimonies, there's no shortage of forums, social media sites and blogs online users can turn to. According to the company, 84 percent of shoppers research a product online before buying it. Seven in 10 of those shoppers read reviews before making online payments.

Still, the fear of negative reviews is a valid concern. However, Bazaarvoice performed its own study and discovered the majority of online reviews are positive. On the rare occasion a negative review is posted, brands can increase their image in the eye of Internet users by publicly responding to the feedback as opposed to ignoring it. Twenty-two percent of shoppers feel businesses that respond to reviews are trustworthy, the company said. Thirty-five percent believe such brands are providing excellent customer service, and 44 percent view the business as one that truly cares for its customers. Also, Econsultancy stated a healthy amount of negative reviews make the positive ones more believable.

Benefits to businesses
The specifics of a review are incredibly beneficial to online retailers. Such information tells businesses exactly what shoppers are looking for, so companies can use reviews when determining what new merchandise to offer. Reviews also point out how to promote products, highlighting which of its aspects are the most favored and desired.

Correctly formatted reviews can improve a business's standing and increase clicks from search engine results pages, according to Econsultancy. Consistent reviews provide new content at no cost to the business. This new, original content helps search engine spiders find related pages and increases a page's search engine results ranking.

Also, reviews lead to sales. According to Internet Retailer, an experiment by Petco found shoppers were 50 percent more likely to buy an item after seeing highly rated products. NetShops, a company operating multiple online stores, found products with reviews saw a 26 percent increase in sales compared to those without.

Consumers have numerous demands of e-commerce retailers, but these demands aren't hard to meet. In addition to a variety of payment solutions, businesses should provide customer reviews for potential shoppers to use when making purchasing decisions. Negative reviews have their benefit, and businesses can increase their public brand by responding to them.

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