Ladies' handbag on a white background
While Amazon.com, Best Buy and other online retailers have offered the option for customers to rate and review products for what seems like an eternity now, the fashion industry is only more recently hauling itself up onto the bandwagon.
By the end of the month, Saks.com will offer a five-star review system allowing consumers to opine on a variety of products, from "$1,700 Jimmy Choo bags to $7 Kiehl's lip balm," the WSJ reports. Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales also currently offer this option, following an early example set by Nordstrom last fall.
While it's no surprise that this trend hasn't caught on so swiftly in the fashion industry—apparel is indeed harder to size up systematically than gadgets and books—luxury retailers have been especially slow to embrace the offering of crowd-sourced reviews. By and large, luxury labels have resisted the world of e-commerce in general, until only recently when many have started launching their own sites devoted to online shopping.
However, according to the article, product reviews have actually been shown to boost loyalty and sales with online customers: "Reviews tend to be overwhelmingly positive, averaging 4.3 out of 5, according to Bazaarvoice Inc., which provides review software for 1,000 retailers, including Saks and Nordstrom."
While it's not the most glamorous commerce site, we'd argue that much of shoe retailer Zappo's success lies in its reviews where customers can warn others of a shoe size running too small or not being true to the color shown on the site. While this advice may dissuade customers from buying the wrong item, they're far more likely to eventually purchase of the right item. And with the madness of holiday shopping around the corner, consumers will need all the help they can get.