Well, clearly Amazon believes that they have an important role to play in guiding potential customers to their site. They have just launched a series of widgets that bloggers and online social network users will be able to use, primarily as part of Amazon’s affiliate program.

And just why is this avenue so important to retail organisations? The reason is that the personal recommendation is a powerful tool for retailers – in fact probably THE most important one they have if used correctly. Quite simply, we all rely very heavily on the opinion of friends or colleagues that we trust when making a buying decision.

Online word of mouth, as I mentioned in Blogs, Peer Review and the Retail Market, holds enormous sway with customers and is going to be increasingly important. This is primarily down to the massive increase in the levels of online communication via blogs and social networks. But, importantly, this is not only the case with the so called Generation Y but with people of all ages as the increasing average user age of both MySpace and now Facebook is clearly demonstrating.

So as a small business looking at retailing online, what can you do? Well, we will be looking at this in more detail next week as part of the Small Business Series on Better Business Blogging. But in the meantime, take a leaf out of the “big boys” book and think about making your own widget which you can distribute yourself to help publicise your online shop or products.

For some ideas on creating widgets yourself, have a look at All about Widgets which is an excellent start point – it will also direct you to places and resources that you really should visit.

In the meantime, try to keep an eye on what the main players in your own market sector are doing and, where possible, employ similar tactics to raise your own profile!

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