The Power of Customer Reviews

When you’re looking for a way to turn online window shoppers to devoted customers, social proof is a great tool to tip them over the edge.

Social proof is the phenomenon where we follow the actions of others: it’s why that one booth at the craft fair never seems to be empty, or why people line up in front of a food truck, when another lunch option would be a little quicker: we see people doing or liking a thing, and we assume they’re on to something. If so many people are buying the same item, it must be pretty great, right?

So how does an online shop demonstrate social proof? How does a store that is bustling behind the scenes and keeping customers happy look any different from its counterparts? One way can be adding customer reviews or testimonials to your online shop.

Why customer reviews?

Customer reviews do a few things for your business: In addition to that social proof that real people are lining up to buy your items, they give your business a visible pulse by showing recent purchases. They can also give additional product info, like when a person mentions that they’re 5’11” and the pants hit their ankle just how they like. One study shows that exposing shoppers to user-generated content (that’s things like photos of furniture in their home, or noting how those pants fit) increased conversion rate (punching that Complete Purchase button) up to 166%.

And hosting testimonials on your very own site keeps shoppers in your store, rather than wandering over to Yelp in another browser tab and forgetting to return. Forbes points out that “including reviews on your website gives visitors an instant glimpse into what other customers’ experiences were and allows them to review this feedback on your own site without having to jump to an external source to read them.”

If you think that customer reviews might be a smart addition to your online shop, Big Cartel integrates with two services that can generate a simple addition to your shop. Note: you’ll need a paid Big Cartel account to add these services, because they give a little snippet of code that you’ll add when you customize your shop design.

The options

Powr.io offers several social plugins, including Customer Reviews. Customers can post comments and star ratings, so you can collect these reviews passively, or include pushes to your reviews section in your marketing efforts. Shop owners can choose to enable replies or manually approve posts before they appear live, if it’s important to add context or conversation to your reviews. Powr.io has a free plan if you’d like to try it out, but as your web traffic grows, you’ll pay $5 or more per month.

Elfsight is priced similarly, with a free plan that you can start with, and paid plans starting at $5 per month that accommodate more views. Elfsight’s social plugins include Customer Testimonials, a more curated approach to reviews. You’ll dig a little deeper into setup for testimonials, adding them individually, rather than offering a comment box on your site. This allows you to hand-pick your most enthusiastic or relevant reviews. Shop owners can also choose whether to display testimonials as a slider as part of an existing page, or a larger grid that can stand on its own.

Keep in mind

While our intent here is to let you know of the tools available to you, not every one will be the right fit for your business. Whether an added expense isn’t in the budget right now or the idea of managing reviews feels overwhelming, it’s okay to opt out of adding this feature. There are other ways to show that your shop is active and satisfying customers: A trickle of new, well-photographed products could do the trick, or a frequently updated social media gives a place for your fans to like and comment on your work. Think about your interests and energy levels, do a gut check, and trust yourself to know your business best.

And if you’re looking for more add-on features for your Big Cartel shop, check our list of apps and integrations to see how we can help.

Sarah Anderson

Marketing at Big Cartel. Loud talker, maker at City of Industry. Semi-professional aunt. Pretty psyched about all of it.

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