11 great ways to use social proof in ecommerce

One of the most effective techniques you use on your ecommerce site to increase the confidence of buyers is ‘social proof’.

Social proof is the phenomena where people tend to believe that the decision and actions of others reflect the correct behaviour in a given situation.

Here are 11 examples of social proof in action on ecommerce sites.

Some obvious, some more innovative. Please suggest any other great examples you’ve seen…

Why do you need social proof?

Bar staff looking for tips and buskers looking for contributions will often add a few coins or notes to their jars or hats to reinforce to the ‘customer’ what is expected of them. This, in theory, increases the takings.

Used in an online retail context, social proof taps into this same consumer psychology. If customers can see how other people are using a site, which products they are buying, then this provides them with a cue.

So, to take advantage of this behaviour, ecommerce sites need to create an experience which shows potential customers that they’re not the only people making the same (purchase) decision.

Here are some examples of this in action…

Naked Wines

Naked Wines makes effective use of consumer reviews and user comments across its website, but it’s the way scores are displayed on results and product pages which are interesting.

Rather than presenting an average review score, Naked Wines asks users if they would recommend a particular wine to others:

social proof

This is a great tactic, as it potentially means more to potential buyers than showing a five star rating.

Kiddicare

Kiddicare provides some great examples of how to use customer reviews to aid conversions. Not only does it display reviews and average ratings for its products, but it also shows pros and cons and best uses.

In addition, the descriptions of the reviewers themselves means that shoppers can see a customer whose profile matches their own, thus reinforcing the relevance of products to their own needs. 

Kiddicare social proof

Fab.com

Fab.com shows a live feed of products, along with information on how many people have bought them, pinned them, tweeted about them, liked on Facebook or favourited them on the site.

That’s a lot of social proof right there…

Fab social proof

Book Depository

This site will deliver books worldwide with free delivery, and its Book Depository Live Google Maps mashup reinforces this proposition with a map showing orders from around the world in real time.

In someone in Hong Kong feels confident in placing an order, why shouldn’t other customers?

Book Depository social proof

Ling’s Cars

Have a look through this site, there’s a lot of social proof in action, and much else besides.

The map shows the number of customers that have leased cars from Ling, and zooming in and clicking on the pins reveals a number of customer testimonials, most of which seem to be positive:

social proof

Amazon

There are plenty of examples on this site, though this is a new one. It identifies some sellers as ‘best sellers’, as voted for by other customers. (Thanks to Dan Barker for this example).

social proof

Goodprint

Goodprint provides social proof in the form of recent orders placed by customers, as well as testimonials. (Thanks to @EdwinBongo)

Hotels.com

As well as the usual reviews, Hotels.com shows you how many people have booked a particular hotel in the past few hours when you view its page.

In addition, this information is shown in search results pages. A mixture of social proof and urgency which may encourage you to book while rooms are still available.

Hotels.com social proof

Sweaty Betty

The profiles detailing activities of users, and therefore uses of the products, as well as a little profile of each reviewer:

John Lewis

On its redesigned site, John Lewis displays the most popular products of the moment, providing inspiration for browsers.

Modcloth

The style gallery is a great way to use social proof. It shows the looks other customers have put together using the clothes from the site, with a useful links to ‘shop the look’.

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