Suggestion required for a online shopping site

Hi ,

There is this online shopping site which sells Ski , Swimsuit ,Helmets and goggles related products…

It has been running quite a sometime…i was wondering would it help to run a forum out there…for customers where they can post reviews about the already purchased products…and also enquire about their product delivery status…

Please give me your suggestions…

IMO a forum for customers and visitors can be a valuable addition for almost any e-commerce website.

You’re mixing two different things – reviews and support.

Reviews are extremely important to ecommerce and really to commerce in general but should be structured, use some sort of ranking system and show up on the product as a whole while support can take many channels – a forum is certainly an option but if the purpose is order status inquiries where you don’t really want people sharing their personal details, wouldn’t a contact system just make more sense?

I have seen forums which have Private Discussions…where only the Thread Opener and the Admin or the Staff can see those thread…would that help…??

The reason i am suggesting a forum is Emails sometime get too hectic…and also…people tend to add email addresses in their email list and start shooting rubbish emails to who ever are in their list…so it again is an issue … ???

Just my suggestions though…

I think you would be better off having a blog with product views and a comments box which enables peoples feedback. Forums tend to be alot of work with very little reward. Bare in mind you will need to admin and moderate it continuously.

The goal here is to improve your service and thus reputation so you have think as the customer.

As a customer how does it help me to use a forum where no one else can participate [no crowdsourcing of input] that I have to actively check, return to, maybe even sign up for?

As a customer why would I be concerned about the difficulties you may have in following an email chain?

If you want a forum for support it should be to encourage your customer base to interact with each other and with you. To communally work through issues, raise up suggestions, pass along tips & tricks. There’s lots of value in that but even still it has to be an option… most people want to connect directly, to get personal help with as few steps or barriers as needed.

The problem with the blog / comments approach is that it lacks structure or ease of understanding. You have to click to a new page, scroll through a list of comments and try to make an aggregate analysis of the overall opinion which is heavily biased by whatever couple of remarks were last written.

While user reviews have some fundamental flaws of their own, the main advantage is that they sit right on a product page with a summary insight and answer the very important question: what do people think about this product. From there people may chose to dive into specifics but it’s having the 300 inputs for a 4 star average that gets them to trust it enough to go there…

And of course there’s the process of writing too. Adding a blog comment is seen either as a “me too” response or the start of an argumentative “i am taking a stance” interaction. With a review the request is much more about falling into an understood, and obvious format to explain your personal take as a one off. Bringing in tools like the ability to vote on reviews, add follow ups and the like can extend the feature for those who wish to go deeper while keeping it easy for those who do not.

I here what your saying Ted, but I think that which ever approach you take you will have issues. With the voting format, this can be maninulated and give a totally wrong view of a product - Example: Iphone App store.

Its difficult as most know a great review can do wonders for sales, however the opposite is true as well.

If you were the manufacturer of these products, forum would be a great addition as people tend to flock to manufacturer sites to gain more product knowledge, ask questions, check for new releases, etc. But as somebody pointed out above, for the usual retailer it would be hard to provide value with forums if nobody participates and I think your usual buyer most likely wouldn’t bother visiting the forum. Just my two cents…

i not think it work .
I been see lot of forum like biking , climbing which their forum is not active and only few active members in there no matter how much effort they did to get members. But is just end in the short time and become a ghost town .
As a swimmer, i believe they wish to see other thing rather than chit chat in the forum.