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social proofOne 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. 

If 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 @danbarker 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'. 

Have you seen some good examples of social proof from ecommerce sites? Let me know in the comments... 

Graham Charlton

Published 24 April, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Albie Attias

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers Ltd

Good list Graham. My stock answer of choice used to be the Levis Friends store which displayed which of your Facebook friends liked the outfit you were looking at but it's now discontinued, perhaps because it didnt catch on?

I think in many cases, we value the opinions of those we know over complete strangers so sites that can capitalise on this could be onto a winner. Motilo.com lets you shop online with a friend for example.

almost 3 years ago

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Francesco

Also Booking.com makes a great use of social proofs into their ecommerce site: displaying the number of users looking at the same product page in real time, who last booked that particular hotel, underlining the number of rooms still available. Moreover their reviews can be sorted or filtered per customer type (solo travellers, families, young couples..) and per customer intent (business, leisure..).

almost 3 years ago

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David Allen, VP Sales at NeoMedia

I agree with Albie, good list and really some good old fashioned sales advice, as people buy from people they trust, and you can't fake the truth about actual service...

David Allen

almost 3 years ago

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ChineseBookshop.com

At the moment ebay are trialling a form of social proof on their site. When you browse some listings you see "20 people viewed this in the last hour" as a floating pop-up.

almost 3 years ago

Nick Andrews

Nick Andrews, Head of Search at Mediarun

Some great examples here Graham - certainly the idea of using social proof to influence buying decisions and build trust and demonstrate value is nothing new though; going back to the early days of the internet and original online forums you would be told the number of 'currently logged in' or 'active users' which would provide social proof of the forum's worth, and of course the traditional inclusion of information about the forum users e.g. "power user".

What I find most impressive is the evolution of this social proof where webmasters are trying to differentiate and be creative. The emergence of social platforms has made larger volumes of data and feedback mechanisms available for webmasters - this in turn has allowed for innovation and creativity which is what we are now seeing come through.

Thanks for sharing!

almost 3 years ago

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drupalinthailand

True that many people do not really have an idea about what they want and will just follow others.

It's good to guide them to what YOU want to sell !

almost 3 years ago

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cazimo.com

(12) Another way to use social proof in ecommerce.

Let the buyers see who is buying also right now.
Helped them to develop a conversation.

almost 3 years ago

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Courtney

I really like Lululemon.com for social proof. One their popular product pages they use hashtags and pull in photos of their customers using their products (workout attire) in action.

Freepeople.com also allows customers to upload style pictures (and feature those on the product page). They utilize a "Collections" feature which allows users to add products to their collection/style board -- similar to Pinterest. Boards are then connected to the product pages. Great social proof to see that others are interested in the product and to see how they styled the piece.

almost 3 years ago

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David Palic

Brilliant examples, using social proof to help increase conversions is certainly one social commerce trend that is proving its value in the marketplace. It's also great to see companies adopting unique ways of adding social proof to their sites in a way that makes sense for their brand (what works for Amazon may not work for Fab.com or ModCloth or vice versa). Another cool example I've seen is on Cafepress with a tool they have called Pressboards http://www.cafepress.com/+pressboards+gifts, where users can see, in real time, the products being liked, wanted, and commented on the most. At Social Annex we build out tools like social activity feeds and trending product pages to help e-commerce retailers add a layer of social proof to their sites, see how we stack up to our competition: http://bit.ly/12CGJpO

almost 3 years ago

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Matt B.

Good article, although I find that perverting and exploiting genuine customers' reviews may be a bit misleading.

almost 3 years ago

Peter Harrington

Peter Harrington, King of the Mountains at Always Riding

Hi Guys,

Based on this article and some further reading, we just implemented basic social proof on our product pages:

http://www.alwaysriding.co.uk/bern-watts-helmet-1324.html

We let customers know how many other people recently bought or want an item - we'll see what sort of response we get, but it certainly feels nice.

Pete

over 2 years ago

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Declan Reilly, SEO Account Manager at SEO Works

Hey, I'm involved in the marketing side of a yoga clothing website but we're not quite sure if bringing a social campaign on board would be beneficial. Can anyone on here provide any advice? :(

The clothing site is:
http://www.asquithlondon.com

Thanks in advance.

over 2 years ago

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Alexandru Rada, founder at Vibetrace

Hello friends

It also works with displaying real-time banners related to product:
- X users already bought the product
- Y are currently viewing the same product

And the thing for which we've had a 15% increase in product conversion rate (only applied to some of the products): a speedometer like chart, with three colors (red, yellow and green) displayed only for "hot" products.

I'm curious what results you had after implementation, if you can share please.

Note: I'm developing this tools for my clients as founder of http://www.vibetrace.com

over 2 years ago

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Bec Vaughan, Head of Solutions at Venda

Good list, does anyone have any case studies of the before vs after when adding social proof elements on conversion / AOV etc.

almost 2 years ago

Kevin Pham

Kevin Pham, Responsive Web Design at ProWeb365

very helpful list. I have checked out http://fab.com ..this is also a very good ecommerce website.

I am trying to build up two more site for e-commerce below:
http://e-commercewebdesigner.com/
http://e-commercedeveloper.com/

over 1 year ago

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