According to a CompUSA-iPerceptions study, 63 percent of consumers said they were more likely to purchase from a site if it had product ratings and reviews. And JupiterResearch found that 77 percent of online shoppers used consumer-generated product reviews and ratings and that those who found them useful were more loyal to those businesses.

Clearly, allowing customers to rate and review your products right on your website (a la has a lot of benefits, like increasing sales and decreasing returns. But what if you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a social commerce application?

Worry not. There are now a number of developers with social commerce applications (the ability to add customer-generated ratings and reviews, even the ability to ask and answer customer questions) that small and mid-sized businesses (though probably not small mom-and-pop-type sites) can afford. And they are well worth the investment.

I recently did a case study on one such developer,, which provided e-commerce business Rugs Direct with the ability to safely and securely allow its customers to post ratings and reviews. It’s a great story — with a happy ending.

Another social commerce service that’s received glowing reviews is Baynote, which I wrote about for last year. And even though I haven’t covered this company yet, I’d check out PowerReviews when comparison shopping.

Have any thoughts or experiences about including or using social commerce/ratings and reviews on a site or tips to share? Let me know. I’ll post your comments.

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Posted on January 17, 2008
Filed Under (Ecommerce, Marketing) by jennifer

The teen and twenty-something market may get more attention from advertisers, marketers and the press, but the demographic with the most potential growth and opportunity for e-commerce businesses is adults aged 65 and up and their Baby Boomer children and/or caregivers.

While estimates vary, there are now more than 10 million older adults (who consider “senior” a bad word, though use it to search out products and services online) surfing the Internet, looking for information, products and services targeted just for them and analysts expect that number to soar as the Internet-savvy U.S. population continues to age.

“The mature market is really an immature market,” explained Connie Hallquist, the CEO of Gold Violin, a thriving multichannel business that provides “helpful products for independent living.” “Never before in the history of mankind have we had so many people living so long. This is virgin territory,” said Hallquist. “There are zillions of companies that have been marketing to teens forever. But we’ve never had so many old people, [people] with distinct or unique needs and companies and marketers and brands are [waking] up to that fact.”

To help ecommerce businesses capture a piece of this online market, I asked several experts to share their experience and provide some golden rules on how to market to today’s “Golden Girls” and Guys.

What I came away with were these seven golden rules:

Rule 1: Know who you are selling to

Rule 2: Show you are trustworthy

Rule 3: Offer products and services that provide value

Rule 4: Optimize your site for an older audience

Rule 5: List a customer service number on every page

Rule 6: Make checkout easy

Rule 7: Don’t forget SEO and traditional marketing

Btw, almost all these rules — or tips — apply to just about every ecommerce site.

Want to learn more? Read my article, “Selling to Silver Surfers.”

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