Why You Should Build an Ecommerce Community

I’ve been telling my clients that content is king for quite sometime now. It’s an old cliche that I heard back in the days from those big ad agency authority figures when search engine optimization was just a baby. While I still do agree to the basic concept of this mantra, I’ve begun to question that authority, at least in an e-commerce frame of mind.

There’s no question that the rise in popularity of blogs and social sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others have gotten users to spend more time reading online than ever. But how long do you spend shopping online? Ok, first let me state that I’m a guy and most guys don’t tend to shop quite as long as women, so I may not be the most reliable source. My shopping online consists of looking at a few sites to compare prices and products. The whole experience can take as little as 5 min, up to an hour if it’s a bigger ticket item. It’s important that I find a place that meets all my shopping needs so that I can move on with the rest of my day. And this is where the Community comes in.

Community – A Challenge to the Throne

When I visit an online store, I’m looking for a great online experience. I want a seamless, easy to navigate site that provides the right amount of information for me. Ratings and reviews from customers provide, more often than not, an unbiased opinion. An ecommerce shop that stays on top of trends, offers tips and tutorials, and gives a platform for their customers’ voices shows me that these people are professionals that know their business. These sites are not just places to dump content, but rather a growing community that fosters participation and loyalty.

78 percent of Americans (aged 18-64) agree that online reviews influence their purchases.

Think about how you shop these days. Take Amazon for example. How often do you skip directly to the reviews section of a product before reading the description from the manufacturer. If a product has 100 positive reviews and a competitor product has none, and all other things being equal, which would you feel more comfortable adding to your cart? The same concept is true when differentiating between websites. Two websites selling the same thing at the same price but one of them has numerous reviews while the other has none. Which one would you purchase from? My money’s on the one with more reviews.

Yes, the role of the ecommerce site is to drive shoppers to the site and make the conversion. But by building an ecommerce community or a place where shoppers can come to gather information and share their experiences and knowledge, you’ll be building brand recognition that will lead to more repeat sales and greater word-of-mouth.

Content is still very much alive and extremely important. But for the online shopping experience, the community is a powerful motivator. In another article we will look at how best to get more reviews for your online store.