November 20, 2007, 12:00 AM

Excuse me, what do you think of this gift basket?

Gift basket e-retailer DelightfulDeliveries.com added customer reviews two months ago and the reviews are sending the e-retailer a gift: a 20% increase in conversion rates for items rated with four or five stars.

When in a store shopping for a gift basket, a shopper could turn to other shoppers in the store and ask what they think of different baskets. But that just doesn’t really happen. Shopping in stores generally doesn’t work that way.

But shopping online is a whole different animal, especially now that e-retailers across the web are flocking to customer reviews to enhance the Internet shopping experience and increase conversion and sales.

DelightfulDeliveries.com added customer reviews two months ago and the reviews are sending the e-retailer a gift: a 20% increase in conversion rates for items rated with four or five stars.

Products are rated on appearance, flavor, freshness, quality and value. But DelightfulDeliveries.com offers customer reviews functionality with a twist: Reviews are written by gift-givers and recipients.

In addition to helping with conversion, reviews are aiding the e-retailer with product selection. “We’ve removed products because of bad reviews,” says Eric Lituchy, CEO.

The company added customer reviews as part of an overall site redesign launched in September. The new site features wider pages allowing for more room to showcase the variety of products and price ranges. Shoppers can also drill down within categories by price, dietary restrictions, brand or occasion.

“Showing a wide variety of products and price points makes shoppers feel more comfortable that there is something on the site for them,” says Lanae Paaverud, a board member of the Internet Merchants Association, a non-profit trade association for e-commerce companies.

Other site improvements include a more intuitive checkout page that shows arrival times and the cost for items to be shipped immediately or on a future date. Plans are in the works to enhance the feature by linking shipping specials for orders that ship locally out of one of the company’s three distribution centers. “If the product can be shipped locally next day,” Lituchy says, “we want people to know so they can save on next day shipping costs.”

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