It has been six months since Macy's opened its Web site to customer comments and reviews, and Peter Sachse, the chairman and chief executive of macys.com, regularly finds himself surprised by what the company is learning from its clientele. The site now gets upward of 350 reviews a day, some full of praise, others with serious concerns.

"ChicChix" tells other shoe buyers that the Jessica Simpson Ladonna pumps run a half-size small, while "jcamp" says Calvin Klein sheets and duvet covers don't need fabric softeners. "Our site has become like a social network. It's the ultimate word of mouth," says Sachse, whose macys.com is a division of Federated Department Stores (FD).

Retailers are taking a page from MySpace. They know that customers, especially the younger and more Net-savvy, want to be heard, and they also want to hear what others like them think. So increasingly, retailers are opening up their Web sites to customers, letting them post product reviews, ratings, and in some cases photos and videos. The result is that customer reviews are emerging as a prime place to visit for online shoppers.

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