retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal about how a number of elite US retailers - Saks, Bloomiungdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom - have begun allowing shoppers to post user reviews of their stores and products on their websites.

“The changes are being driven by the need to beef up online sales, and a realization among luxury retailers that customers want the ability to take shopping advice from their peers,” the Journal writes. It also, no doubt, is driven by the fact that so many online retailers are making this option available, and the elite retailers were actually losing credibility by not offering it.

According to the story, “Product reviews have been shown in surveys to boost loyalty and sales with online customers who can't see or touch the merchandise. According to the E-tailing Group, 71% of online shoppers said their choices are most influenced by customer reviews, followed by discussion forums. Retailers also have discovered that reviews tend to be overwhelmingly positive, averaging 4.3 out of 5, according to Bazaarvoice Inc., which provides review software for 1,000 retailers, including Saks and Nordstrom.”
KC's View:
Every retailer ought to offer this kind of service. It may create a kind of transparency that will be uncomfortable to some ... but the alternative is to look irrelevant and out of step with a world in which such options aren’t really options anymore. They are a cost of doing business - and are a form of customer service.