Something big happened this morning — WalMart.com is now accepting consumer reviews.
I think this is going to fundamentally change the marketing environment. More important, it is going to give consumers extraordinary power to fight back against businesses that don’t deliver on their promises. Why?
1. Everything gets reviewed
This is the first time reviews have been extended to virtually every consumer product. Consumers can reject or praise a toothbrush, batteries, and glue. No consumer products manufacturer can avoid facing open, honest feedback.
2. Reviewing goes mainstream
WalMart exposes customer feedback to new categories of consumers who have never used the review sections on high-end travel and shopping sites. Last year 28% of consumers reviewed something online. This is the tipping point – soon almost everyone will be doing it.
3. WalMart becomes a consumer activist
Whatever views you have about WalMart, nobody questions that they are badasses who fight for what they want. The flood of reviews is going to tell them exactly what their customers don’t like (and won’t buy). I guarantee that manufacturers are going to hear about it. Reviews enable WalMart to turn their badassedness against companies that make products that aren’t making people happy.
I don’t know how big this is going to get, but I expect very, very big. QVC.com is getting 2,000+ reviews every day. This will be much bigger.
Lessons and warnings:
1. Manufacturers and Marketers: Get ready, because the game is about to change. You need to serve your customers first and foremost by making great stuff. You’re not going to be able to cover for averageness with clever advertising.
2. Consumers: Rejoice. Your voice and power have been extraordinarily amplified. You will be heard.
3. eCommerce Sites: You better get reviews on your site fast. Shoppers will expect to read reviews before every purchase. If you don’t have them, they will shop elsewhere.
Word of mouth is fundamentally changing the relationship between business and consumers – for the better. Consumer reviews align customer satisfaction with a store’s profit motive. This is a good thing – for us as smart businesses, but more for ourselves as consumers and for our families.
Disclosure: I am an advisor to BazaarVoice, the company that powers WalMart & QVC’s reviews. But I still think this is a big deal.