Although most retail commerce still takes place offline in brick and mortar stores, most people use the web to research products before buying. And product reviews, whether from professionals or consumers who’ve actually bought and used products, can be a big help in making the right decision (or avoiding a wrong one).
Product reviews have been staples at online retail sites for years. You can also find them on product comparison engines like Become.com or Yahoo shopping. There are also sites that specialize in aggregating reviews, such as Epinions, ConsumerSearch and ConsumerReview.com.
In the past, I’ve found myself jumping around between these and other sites, never fully satisfied with the experience. Sometimes it was because the reviews didn’t have enough information. Other times, reviews seemed biased or fabricated.
Lately I’ve been using Wize, a product search engine with several unique features that make it an excellent starting point for product research. Wize has aggregated more than 1.2 million reviews, from both experts and users, drawn from more than 6,300 web sites that feature reviews.
This scope means that you can find reviews for just about any kind of product. Better still, Wize analyzes reviews and applies a proprietary algorithm called Wize Rank, distilling sentiment and attitudes about each product into a single number from 1 to 100.
When you search for product reviews, Wize displays the most highly rated products first. Each product is displayed with a picture and short description, including its Wize Rank, sentiment from users (love it, like it, hate it, etc), sentiment from experts (positive, negative) and buzz about the product (strong, average or weak). This give you an excellent starting point for comparing products without wasting a lot of time trying to understand features.
Want to know more about a product? Click its link and you’ll be presented with a list of all of the reviews aggregated by Wize. You can also get product specs, and save product details and notes using a “my research” feature. This is cookie-based, so you needn’t register or sign in to use it.
Once you’ve narrowed your choices, Wize offers standard comparison features and pretty much performs like other product comparison engines. Of course, you can also click through to buy a product from an online merchant if you get that far along in your shopping process.
Wize occasionally hiccups, displaying incorrect low prices for products, or referring you through to the wrong product on retailer sites. Nonetheless, Wize is increasingly becoming my preferred starting point for product research.