Product reviews are found on the biggest e-commerce sites in the world. Not only do marketplace websites like Amazon and Etsy have reviews, but plenty of individual stores do, too. By now, it's clear that consumers rely heavily on reviews to guide them through many of their purchase decisions, whether online or off. In today’s blog, let’s have a look at why you need reviews, how you can collect them, and some supporting statistics.
Before we begin, here is an overview of the different sections of this blog, so you can skip ahead if you prefer:
If you’re still on the fence about investing time and money in product reviews, let’s see what the biggest benefits of displaying them can bring to your shop.
Showing off your product reviews gives your shop a certain level of transparency. Not only does it appear that the shop has “nothing to hide”, but shop owners also have the opportunity to address any criticisms head on.
Negative reviews are, unfortunately, pretty much inevitable. Nobody's perfect, but the reality is that you will probably get a few unflattering negative reviews. The solution isn't too bury the negative reviews with hundreds of positive reviews (although, yes, you should try to gather as many positive reviews as possible).
After all, burying them won't really hide them. Most relevant review systems let users filter by ratings, so whoever wants to find them will find them. In fact, plenty of shoppers go out of their way to search out and read negative reviews when they visit an unknown website. You've probably even done it yourself, haven't you?
This isn’t necessarily because shoppers have schadenfreude. There isn't any other cynical motive other than them wanting to see what has been said about your shop - that includes the negative stuff.
Shoppers want to see what the circumstances were that lead to this negative review (i.e. long shipping, easily-broken product, etc.), and most importantly, to see how the shop owner handled the situation. Did they respond with an apology? Did they replace the product?
Reviews can definitely be a great insight into the customer service quality of an online shop. Of course, this generally involves shop reviews more than product reviews, but product reviews also reveal information about the shop (and vice versa) and there tends to be some overlap when consumers write their reviews.
Believe it or not, product reviews can actually help your shop rank higher in Google search results. How? It’s quite simple, actually – user-generated content boosts SEO.
Whenever someone writes a new review, it essentially gets shared on a product page. Because this action is basically the equivalent of "adding new texts" to your pages, Google will re-crawl your pages relatively soon thereafter. Because Google absolutely loves “fresh content”, your product pages will reap the rewards by appearing higher in search results.
As everyone knows, the higher you rank, the more traffic you’ll get.
As we mentioned earlier, customers rely on each other for feedback before completing a purchase.
For businesses that collect lots of reviews, there is more feedback for shoppers to read through. Every visitor is unique and looking for different details. With plenty of reviews to peruse, shoppers get a much clearer picture of the product they’re considering purchasing.
When customers have a better understanding of what they’re buying, it leads to lower feelings of disappointment and thus, lower return rates.
Speaking of giving shoppers more insights into your products, you might want to check out our article on unboxing videos.
It might seem obvious that customers are sharing their experiences and feedback on a certain product.
However, because we’re all consumers, it’s easy to forget that reviews aren’t just there for our fellow shoppers. As a business owner, you should be reading every review that comes in. If a certain product just doesn’t live up to the quality standards that you expect, wouldn't you want to know about it?
If a certain product breaks easily or the colours are different than the product image, and enough people seem to complain about it, it might be time to get rid of that product (or make some adjustments to your product pages).
Stop investing in advertising and inventory for a product that doesn’t work and/or makes your customers unhappy. In the long run, you want to keep them happy because the best customer is a loyal customer, right? Loyalty, like trust, is difficult to earn, but easy to lose.
In case you’re more of a "numbers person", I’ve found a few statistics to back up my points.
BrightLocal creates an annual reviews survey. Their 2019 survey revealed many interesting statistics. Among them, this chart jumped out at me:
The chart more or less speaks for itself, but I will highlight, that the majority of users in the "strongest" online shopping demographics (i.e. shoppers under the age of 55) trust online reviews very much.
It's worth noting that it shoppers have become somewhat sceptical of online reviews. That's why a closed-review system is important - they strongly reduce the number of fake reviews.
A closed-review system means only verified customers can leave reviews on the website.
Another statistic from the same survey that told an interesting story was this one:
This chart shows that users (especially those under 55) pay attention to the age of online reviews, thus reinforcing the idea that continuous review collection is necessary. If reviews are too old, they lose a certain amount of trustworthiness.
When it comes to the sources that consumers use to make product purchase decisions, eMarketer released some findings from March 2018 comparing UK and US internet users:
Three out of the top four answers directly involve third-party social proof. Word of mouth, ratings/review websites, and user reviews found themselves up there. Search (traditional) also made it in the top four.
It’s worth noting that search might lead to multiple options. For example, it might lead to a third-party reviewer. It may also be the brand’s website that shows up in the results.
If you've ever considered having an influencer review your product, check out our article on influencer marketing.
Here is a more recent survey that shows how consumers interact with online reviews. It more or less summarises everything mentioned above: People check reviews before buying from a business (90%), check overall ratings and avoid shops with under 4 stars (94%), pay most attention to recent reviews (48%), and are more likely to buy from a shop that responds to negative reviews (45%).
Want to learn more about the e-commerce? Head to our download centre and get the market analyses for each country for free!
One last statistic that's worth looking at really tells it all:
There's not really much else to say for this chart. Only about 3% of shoppers disagree with the notion that positive reviews have absolutely no impact on their decision to shop at a specific shop.
By now, you should already know how important it is to get product reviews for your shop. Besides getting Google to show your stars, the more product reviews you have, the more trust customers will have in you.
However, you might be wondering how to motivate your customers to actually leave their feedback for you.
Let’s face the facts: unless you have such an amazing product at such an incredible price, customers probably won’t go out of their way to write you a review… unless you ask.
There are a number of ways you can ask them, but the important thing is to actually do it one way or another. Whether it’s a postcard or an email, just go ahead and ask them for the favour!
Some companies will place a reminder in the package. This can often do the trick! Users will test out the product, and before they throw out the box, they’ll see the card and remember that they can quickly leave a review for the product.
Otherwise, you can email them reminders. Some review providers have a system for collecting reviews.
With Trusted Shops, for example, the Reputation Manager can help get older customers to write reviews- and even send them to multiple reviews providers. This can help improve your overall ratings on these different platforms. Learn more by downloading our whitepaper.
Rewarding customers for leaving reviews can be a bit tricky! The law states that you can’t offer incentives for positive reviews, but that you can indeed offer something for a review.
You just can’t specify whether they have to be good or bad with your incentive. As a shop owner, you may also have to label those reviews as having been rewarded. Be sure to check your country’s laws regarding incentivising reviewers to give feedback.
Product reviews can help give customers that extra push they need to trust your online shop and complete their purchase. Because shoppers are cynical, letting former customers become your advocates can help you gain their confidence. Not only that, but you can get great insights, lower your return rates and increase traffic to your site.