Done with DIY, Drugstore.com Partners on Reviews

Offering customer product reviews on its Web site is nothing new for Drugstore.com. The online purveyor of health, beauty, vision, and pharmacy products has offered review capability since 2003.

However, the company is upgrading the review system by partnering with PowerReviews, a San Francisco-based company formed in 2005 by Andy Chen and Robert Chea, founders of early Internet e-commerce site FogDog.com. The PowerReviews technology should make it easier for users of Drugstore.com and its subsidiary, Beauty.com, to read and write product reviews, said Drugstore.com VP and Chief Marketing Officer David Lonczak.

He said the old product review system, made in-house, lacks many of the modern features available with PowerReviews and some of its competitive products. “Historically, Drugstore.com has been a home-grown Web site,” explained Lonczak. “As a Web site established ten years ago, some of its features and functionality we have essentially outgrown.”

Lonczak said the company considered an in-house improvement of the product review feature but faced a typical “buy or lease question.” It was decided the company was better off looking for outside solutions, and chose PowerReviews after reviewing a number of vendors.

“We liked their functionality, the badging they have [such as expert verified]… the ability to add features beyond reviews such as user-generated content in the way of questions and answers. Things like that,” said Lonczak.

As for the general value of having customer reviews on an e-commerce site, Lonczak said that, while it is difficult to measure, most in the industry now accept that reviews are vital.

“If you look at consumers and ask the question, ‘What would be an influencing factor for a consumer to make a purchase?’ the vast majority would say that if it’s referred to them by a friend or peer or other consumer, that is going to be the most valuable input they can get to give them sound confidence they are making the right choice,” he said.

Having a retailer or advertiser say their product is great is far less effective than having accolades provided by consumers, noted Lonczak.

He said negative comments are also valuable, not only because they lend credibility to the review system but also because they help responsible manufacturers identify problems with their products. Drugstore.com has editors that review the reviews and weed out any that are offensive or appear to be disingenuous.

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