There's been a lot of convincing research released in the past few months around customer ratings and reviews. Clearly, web site customers find ratings and reviews useful and not only rely on them to make purchase decisions -- they also participate and share their own experiences. Here are a number number of recent articles and blog posts that discuss customer ratings and reviews:

Forester: User Ratings Top Consumers' Online Wish Lists

User reviews and ratings were the most-asked-for web site content and functionality, beating even coupons/special offers and price comparison tools.

Deloitte: Companies Must Learn to Compete in a More Transparent Age

User ratings and reviews are having a "considerable impact on purchase decisions." Sixty-two percent of shoppers read customer-generated product reviews when shopping, and nearly 80% say the reviews have a direct impact on their purchases. User Reviews a Must for Retail Websites

98% of surveyed shoppers read the reviews on e-commerce websites prior to purchasing. Many shoppers spend over 10 minutes reading reviews before making a purchase decision.

PowerReviews: New Study Analyzes the Positive Effect of Online Reviews on E-Commerce

Internet merchants say that customer ratings and reviews:

  • enhance the customer experience
  • ease the burden on customer service by answering many basic product questions
  • improve trust and loyalty because of their unbiased nature
  • are mostly positive
  • are best utilized on the product page

eMarketer: Customer Reviews Increase Web Sales

Customer ratings and reviews increase site traffic, conversion rate and average order size. They also improve customer loyalty/retention and improve search engine optimization.

As you can see, adding customer reviews and ratings to your e-commerce site is not just a helpful tool for customers to interact with your site -- they lead to purchase decisions.