Retailers who aren’t leveraging consumer reviews across omnichannel are missing crucial business development and sales opportunities.

Presenting honest consumer reviews of products both instore and online – before and after the point of sale is instrumental to consumer purchasing behaviours, Kate Musgrove managing director of Bazaarvoice, told Retailbiz.

And according to new research from the review platform, 45% of instore shoppers are reading reviews before they go in to make a purchase, with these reviews contributing to revenue per visit doubling, according to Musgrove.

Ensuring seamless access to this type of consumer-driven content is one of the most powerful drivers of sales, Musgrove says, and the success of online giant Amazon attests to this.

“Some of the most successful campaigns are leveraging the voice of the customer,” she said. “As a retailer if you’re not serving content to customers you’re missing out on potential sales. Consumers will go elsewhere to research and potentially convert on other products.”

Reviews also often provide invaluable business development advice to retailers, Musgrove says.

But ensuring that reviews are holistic and credible is crucial to customer engagement, Musgrove says. The presence of bad reviews can work to the retailers advantage, she says, by reassuring the reader of the veracity of the content.

“Instead of being afraid retailers should embrace negative reviews and not be afraid to show these but to instead take action and be open in feedback. A lot of our retail partners for instance respond publicly to negative reviews.”

Bazaarvoice recently won the award for Best User-Generated Content Tool at the NORA Awards

This kind of public feedback, particularly where it is actioned, increases shopper intent to purchase, according to their research, Musgrove says.

Reviews should also provide a breadth of perspectives, Musgrove says. But it is equally as important that reviews are vetted as legitimate, she says.

“The foundation of any kind of content particularly when it comes to ratings and reviews is making sure you have a breadth of content across as many products as possible and getting to the consumer not just in store but when they’re trying to discover as well as when they’re making a final decision,” she said.

“It’s critical to provide content that is highly relevant or trustworthy because it’s pulled out as something moderated by a third party.”

And there is no “ceiling” for the number of reviews a retailer should have, Musgrove says. In fact, the more reviews a retailer has, the higher the conversion rate, she says.

“What struck us the most was there is no maximum number or ceiling for the number of reviews have to collect, it’s very much a more is more approach.”

But even just displaying the average rating of a product can be hugely effective in driving sales, she says.

“Some of the most effective initiatives we’re seeing is initiatives as simple as average rating of product on shelf tag so our research shows that where there’s these sorts of ratings there’s a 30% increase in the likelihood of a sale.”

And capturing personal data about a consumer adds to the value of these reviews, she says.

“We would also point out that capturing as much profile information about a consumer as possible is key because we know that shoppers are more likely to listen to a recommendation from people like them.”