Have you ever compared two items from an online store, where one has a much longer description? Do you tend to favor the item with more information?
How many times have you stood in front of a product display, with no real idea which item to buy?
How much have you come to rely on online reviews or advice from friends?
The lesson from these questions is that if your business isn't offering detailed descriptions and reviews of products, start! Yes, it takes work, but this is one of those business basics. You'll have to tell more if you want to sell more.
If you have enough customers to provide reviews of your products, great! That would be the highest credibility, combining two of the themes we've talked about lately: reviews and testimonials.
If you are a new business with fewer customers, you could write the reviews yourself, or find consumer-written reviews online. Heck, put out a pad of sticky notes in your store. Invite reviews!
A review does not have to be a point-by-point, detailed rundown of each product. It can be something as simple as a description. You can even group a whole class of items. In my store, I've grouped wines by variety. I rate the sweetness, the intensity of flavor, and add a one-word description with a matching icon. So white zinfandel is described as semisweet, light bodied, and fruity. Every wine variety has a similar description. Because they all follow the same pattern, it's easy for novices to compare two different wine varieties.
The standardization is key to using reviews to increase sales. Customers need to be able to compare items, and reviews can make that easier, if they follow a common outline.
Next week, we'll talk about how to make ratings and reviews work for service businesses.
Becky McCray is a small-town entrepreneur, the coowner of a liquor store and cattle ranch. She writes about small-business and rural issues , based on her own successes and failures. As a consultant, she helps small businesses and small - town governments get things funded and get things done. McCray also is a noted speaker on small - business issues. She blogs at Small Biz Survival.