Even bad reviews can improve your sales

There is mounting evidence that authenticity is more important to consumers than some perceived level of perfection. Here is another case — this one coming from a report by CNN Money, about AlpacaDirect:

AlpacaDirect.com always offered a page full of cherry-picked customer comments raving about the site’s alpaca sweaters, socks and yarn. But recently Hobart, 47, decided to take the idea a step further: He hired PowerReviews, whose software lets shoppers write their own product reviews directly on the retailer’s Web site.

It was a risky move for the four-year-old company, based in Brentwood, Calif. Hobart was effectively paying to host bad press — such as posts by customers who described AlpacaDirect’s golf cardigan as “kinda sweaty” and a “poor fit.” Both awarded the cardigan three out of a possible five stars.

But a month after installing the PowerReviews service, Hobart saw sales climb 23% on items that had customer reviews (even that cardigan, which garnered an average of four stars).

This leap in sales is not atypical. It’s hard to believe that one bold change can really improve sales by this much. But it’s true.

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