Industrialisation changed that. Products began to be mass-produced. The producers were out of sight. People still had to go to a shop to find a pair of shoes, but they had no social interaction with the producer. Instead, consumers had to trust the sales person – they had no other choice.
We’re now in the 21st century. An increasing number of consumers are shopping online, buying products without ever meeting a sales person. There is no social interaction, which means no one to ask for help.
Will shoppers trust a website?
Many e-commerce websites use words like “splendid,” “extraordinary,” “beautiful,” “bargain,” and all kinds of appealing marketing words to describe their products and services. But do shoppers trust these descriptions? Probably not. Numerous studies have shown as much: people don’t trust ads, people trust other people. But there are no people on a website.
The solution for an e-commerce site seeking to achieve a higher degree of credibility is social commerce. Social commerce is customer interaction that drives real business results. In TELMORE’s case, social commerce puts user-generated content in the purchase path, bringing value to our customers – and credibility to TELMORE.
Social interaction online
Let me illustrate with an example. A person is browsing the web for a new mobile phone. An Internet search brings him to TELMORE, where he finds the HTC Hero, which costs 1799 DKK ($326US/242 €). But who is TELMORE, and can he trust us? User ratings show that this is a popular, well-received phone. And perhaps more importantly, the reviews show that customers – real people like the shopper in our example – have bought from our website before and had a good experience.
The shopper’s natural initial hesitation is subdued, and he clicks on the phone to see more. On the next page he finds all ratings and reviews made by other vistors.
On this specific phone there are 46 reviews made by other customers – not by TELMORE. These ratings and reviews give TELMORE credibility, because they show that we are not afraid to give the power to our customers. We let them tell the truth about the phone and our brand, and as mentioned above, people trust other people. The words of our customers give the shopper the information he needs to confidently purchase the phone.
At TELMORE we have literally thousands upon thousands of reviews. Although we don’t meet our customers face-to-face as people did years ago, we still communicate with them. We have a blog, a popular Facebook fanpage, a Twitter account, and a customer support staff to answer calls. In addition, we have ratings and reviews, which give us a valuable advantage. Not only are our customers communicating with us online, but they are able to communicate with other customers and shoppers. Instead of talking to the clog maker, our visitors are able to talk to each other.
This is how the visitors interact on our site, and it’s just one example of social commerce. I personally surf the internet for product information, blogs, and naturally ratings and reviews. The doctor does take his own medicine.
How is your business using social commerce? Do ratings and reviews influence you?
(This blog post is posted simultaneously at Bazaarvoice.)