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I'm thinking of adding a stackoverflow like knowledge base to my store via a plugin.

Is it a good design choice ? Anyone implemented something similar to a store an can share their experience?

It's not something I usually find on eshops but it might help please the customers while also boosting seo too.

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What is the business requirement that such an addition is going to meet? –  JonW Feb 19 at 12:29
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Good question from JonW. First investigate/analyse the problem, then look for solutions. Don't start with a solution and then find a problem for it to match. –  Bart Gijssens Feb 19 at 12:34
    
Problem: no option for a customer to get opinions from other customers. But you're right - I've already added a module that sends an email asking a review of the purchase after x days, which should slowly solve most of these problems. In the long run, I wanted to make a community about our products, which would not only help promote our brand but would hopefully give more pagerank to our website. Were doing a similar thing with a friend on another eshop, but the community site will first be on a different domain and after testing for a year we may integrate. –  Marek Andreánsky Feb 19 at 14:51
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Isn't this one of the successful features of Amazon? Some user-tests have even revealed that users jump to Amazons site to read the review/discussion there before they decide whether or not to buy on another e-shop. –  Jørn E. Angeltveit Feb 19 at 15:07
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Doesn't necessary, but could be very useful

I find it useful for customer support. Indeed, discussion is needed when site support is weak and there is a chance to get help from the community. Also community could be more trusted source than internal support.

Hovewer, context, type of goods, and overal experience should be considered. For technical goods it's just fine. Also I moderated the site which sold women's apparel. Probably women are more critical to apparel's details and they sent a lot of questions about goods.

Some examples of how discussion works on tech sites:

  • Weggle – they sell bike components. The internal support is fine, hovewer it's useful to get answers from other customer, as they could disclouse some important issues and share real experience.
    enter image description here
  • DX – sells cheap electronics. Customer support is rather weak, moreover goods could be slightly changed compared to description. In this case discussion allows to share experience of previous buyers. And really valuable answers could be found there! enter image description here

Ofcourse, it comes as addition to other tools, like customer reviews, FAQ, etc.

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I would suggest you starting from simple ready-to-go solution: Uservoice or GetSatisfactions.

They both have different modules which you can enable/disable. The main modules are: forums, support tickets, ideas, feedback.

Look at their demos to think about how they can be integrated into your shop.

The main pro's here

  1. installation - some minutes
  2. slick backend for UI customization
  3. rich functionality for moderators
  4. try before you buy
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But how do these provide actual benefit to the site / user? You've just listed features of some embedded forums but not covered off why it's a good idea to include one. –  JonW Feb 19 at 15:14
    
Possible benefits from forum for shop owner are: a) SEO, b) capability to create the community around the shop, с) pre-answering popular questions, d) provide feedback to customers, e) reduce the burden on support, f) improve customer loyalty. But it depends of the shop and the products it sells. –  Humanoit Feb 19 at 15:27
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This isn't really a usability question; and the answer to whether you should do it depends on whether your users would actually use it. If you've had several users requesting the feature, then sure, go for it. But if adding the feature is going to be more trouble than its worth and will only distract from the main purpose of your site, why bother?

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A knowledge base (a faq?) is a good idea if it is only read-only from the user's point of view.

a discussion forum, IMO, It is not a good idea.

You will spend a lot of resources maintaining and moderating the forum.

If "people" decide to post negative posts/reviews it will be detrimental to your business, and if you decide to moderate those negative posts, then you will be seen as doing censorship; and that is not good for business.

If the forum is targeted by bots and trolls, then it's another set of time, money and frustration to handle that.

Max.

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Oh, but you have to show the bad reviews. If you only let the glowing reviews show, users will be able to tell that they're being lied to (by omission). If trust is important to your business (and why wouldn't it be?), and if you decide to allow user reviews, then you've got to show them all, good and bad. –  Ken Mohnkern Feb 19 at 14:09
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