In a post April 28th, I discussed the increased importance of user-generated product reviews in consumers' buying decisions. The theme of the message was companies can be well served to give their customers a platform for talking about what they like (and dislike) about products and services.
While empowering customers can be a way to allow them to help one another make product purchase decisions, there may be an even more important reason to consider making a user review section a part of your web site: it can generate revenue. A recent story in DMNews details how specialty retailer PetCo experienced very positive results from a contest that encouraged customers to write product reviews on the PetCo site. People who wrote reviews spent more time on the PetCo web site, shifted their purchases to higher margin products, and increased in dollars spent. Also, return rates for products reviewed on the web site were lower.
The key to PetCo's success was that it gave customers an incentive to adapt their behavior and begin writing and reading reviews. In this case, the incentive was a chance to win a $500 shopping spree online at PetCo. It would seem safe to say that PetCo's "expense" for this promotion was actually an investment that potentially will continue to provide ROI in the form of higher sales and more engaged customers.
Link: DMNews "DMNews Speaks with John Lazarchic, VP of E-Commerce at PetCo"