Who Needs Reviews? An Introduction for Ecommerce Businesses
Ratings, Reviews, and Their Effect on Ecommerce
Price is (and will probably remain) the top consideration for consumers when making a purchase. That’s not shocking. However, the next most important factors might surprise you: ratings and reviews.
Modern people are savvy to traditional marketing techniques. Consumers know advertisements utilize sophisticated techniques to create the image of a perfect, happy life through the use of whichever widget is being promoted.
To a great extent, Generation X and younger generations don’t want to buy what anyone is selling. They don’t like being sold things, and they are skeptical of traditional marketing. Many people in their 40’s and under actively avoid items that they feel are being sold to them. They can smell a sales pitch, and often, they aren’t interested.
A Social Media Today study showed that younger audiences are much more concerned with authenticity than flashy ads. 85% of Generation X respondents preferred "real and organic” versus “perfect and packaged” messages from brands. And the numbers grew as age decreased.
70% of the time, consumers can detect whether content is user-generated or brand-generated. In addition, more people (60%) felt that user-generated content was more authentic.
Younger generations still love a good deal, though. And they want things. They have needs and pain points, like everyone else. But skepticism is a frequently noted attribute of our younger generations, and brands are not (in general) trusted the way they used to be.
A 2020 study on consumer trust found that across the western world, about 3/4 of the population mistrusts corporations.
Ask yourself: If you want to know how well a product works, who would you ask? The merchant, or the customers who’d purchased it? If you chose the latter, you aren’t alone. Years of collected data shows that reviews are critical to conversions in the modern age.
One Quick Note:
We are going to cover some data-heavy surveys and studies here. When there’s a whole lot of figures, we’ll provide a short summary paragraph at the end.
The Data on Reviews and Trust
Between 2014 and 2021, consumer behavior in ecommerce changed dramatically. This survey found that in 2014, the percentage of consumers who consulted reviews when shopping online was 95%, by 2021, it rose to 99.9%.
In addition, 86% of consumers considered reviews an essential part of making purchase decisions in 2014, and by 2021, it was 98%.
In 2018, 63% of consumers would specifically seek out websites with product reviews. By 2021, that number had risen to 79%.
A couple other nuggets from that survey: about half of shoppers seek out one-star reviews (Millennials are even more likely: 60%). Additionally, about half of shoppers are suspicious of products with an average five-star review (we’ve all seen offers of free merchandise in exchange for a five-star review).
The quality of reviews matter as well. 44% of survey respondents in this Worldfirst survey will only purchase a product with a rating of 3 stars or higher. 31% of consumers wanted 4 stars or higher, and 5% of folks were only interested in 5-star rated products.
Reviews are becoming more important every year as consumers continue to crowd-source their ecommerce purchasing decisions. Many shoppers specifically seek out bad reviews, and about half are suspicious of reviews that seem too positive. Many use star ratings as a quick determinant of whether a product has value.
Trust in Reviews
This BrightLocal study has interesting data about trusting reviews.
47% of consumers are skeptical of reviews that are just a star rating with few words.
40% of consumers see over-the-top praise as suspicious. 32% feel the same way about over-the-top negativity.
When there are a bunch of reviews with the same content, 31% of consumers think they may be fake. Around 30% of customers do not trust anonymous reviews or when pseudonyms are used by reviewers.
The same amount of people distrust reviews if the business owner has responded and suggested the review is fake.
On that note, let us include this fact: More than 50% of customers feel more positive about using a business if the owner responds to some reviews. 88% of respondents claimed they were more likely to use a business if the owner responds to all reviews.
There’s another method to establish more trust in your ratings: verified reviews. Shopper Approved is one of numerous companies that offer verified reviews. As opposed to other ratings, a verified review is solicited from a customer after they have completed their purchase. Unless a user has purchased the item, they do not have a chance at leaving a verified review.
These types of ratings are inherently more trustworthy, and will appear in search engine results alongside the product. They are attributable to a person with a real name, and usually get a little badge indicating their status as a verified review.
Shoppers are skeptical of reviews that are overly positive, overly negative, anonymous, repetitious, or very short. Most consumers like when business owners respond to both positive and negative reviews. Verified reviews add another layer of trustworthiness and credibility to your site, and will appear in search engine results.
The Relationship Between Reviews, Site Traffic, and Conversions
According to this survey, reviews drive traffic to your page. Having even fewer than ten reviews (but more than zero) increases traffic to an ecommerce site substantially, but having a lot of reviews increases it dramatically.
If a site has between one and one hundred reviews displayed for a product, it is almost 77% more likely to earn a conversion versus a product that has zero reviews.
When the number of reviews increases to 5,000, the rate of conversions increases by almost 300% compared to a product without reviews.
Overall, 80% of consumers said they were less likely to make a purchase if a product had no reviews, with the number rising as age decreased.
Reviews drive traffic and conversions in ecommerce sites. Any amount of reviews is better than none, but the more, the better.
Reviews and In-Store Purchases
Even for customers shopping at a brick and mortar location, reviews are very important.
99% of shoppers will (at least occasionally) research purchases online before going to a store.
92% of shoppers will research a product while shopping in a store, and 84% look for positive reviews and ratings when considering in-store purchases. (Source: https://www.powerreviews.com/research/key-digital-physical-influences-customer-journey)
The vast majority of customers in retail stores research products and look at reviews.
Your Reputation Precedes You
Reputations don’t go away anymore. If you have a track record for selling shoddy products or providing bad service, there are plenty of places for a consumer to complain about it. And they will complain.
This report found that about 20% of consumers consider the number of negative reviews as the most important factor when making a purchase decision.
Bad customer experiences are about 50% more likely to make it onto social media or a review site than good experiences, and 86% of those surveyed said negative reviews have impacted their buying decisions.
Moreover, people who had bad customer service experiences share it with more people and in more places than those who had good experiences. (Source: https://www.marketingcharts.com/digital-28628)
People are more often inspired to complain than compliment. Unpleasant experiences are more likely to be posted online than positive ones. Those negative reviews and ratings have a very serious, adverse impact on consumer choices.
Strategies for Ecommerce Businesses - Get Reviews!
We’ve already covered the fact that customers with negative experiences are more likely to share them than those with positive experiences. Counter the negativity by soliciting positive reviews after a purchase. Hubspot published this blog on how to get more reviews. (You can also take a deep dive into responding to negative reviews here.)
Providing different places for reviews, offering incentives for reviews, and responding to every review (positive or negative) are a few of the recommended methods. Another recommendation is providing easy ways for customers to provide reviews with a single click of a link.
Creating a footer for email signatures with links to multiple forums for reviews as well as opportunities for social media engagement creates opportunities for ratings with every communication. Alternatively, a simple follow-up message after fulfilling an order that requests a review provides customers with an easy forum in which to crow about a great experience.
Increase Ecommerce Sales with Reviews, Q&A, and Security
Shopper Approved discovered a three-part recipe to increase conversions. The Traffic & Conversion Suite (T&C Suite) has three components: product ratings and reviews, Q&A, and a website security seal. Each component is designed to promote trust in the consumer.
A randomized survey by Shopper Approved found that consumers vastly preferred product pages that feature the T&C Suite components.
Amazon ranks high in consumer trust. Most ecommerce sites do not have that level of trust and need to cultivate it if they want to make conversions.
When comparing two pages with identical products on Amazon, 88% of consumers surveyed said that they were more likely to buy from a page with the Traffic & Conversion Suite on it, rather than an identical Amazon page without it.
When they posed the same question about non-Amazon product pages, 91% of consumers picked the T&C Suite page rather than the one without.
We mentioned earlier some benefits to using verified reviews. Partnering with a provider of verified reviews, like Shopper Approved will raise the trustworthiness of your site even further.
Trust is a big factor in ecommerce. Establishing trust can be done using the three part T&C Suite: a site security certificate, reviews, and Q&A’s. Sites with these features are vastly preferred by consumers. This is true for Amazon vendors, but even more so for independent ecommerce pages. In addition, verified reviews will increase your customer’s trust and add ratings to your product listings in search engine results.
Improve the Customer Journey
Reviews allow companies to examine more than just customer satisfaction. They tell us both what is and is not working for consumers. They can illuminate pain points along the customer journey.
Recall the increased likelihood that people will share bad experiences over good ones. That is not exclusive to products. A customer who feels mistreated by a company is more likely to make that known than if they had a great experience. Brand loyalty has a flip side.
Your ecommerce site, customer service, communication, order process, fulfillment, and issue resolution all contribute to the customer journey. A clear reading of reviews will illuminate pain points in the customer experience. With this knowledge, businesses can alter parts of the process to eliminate negative experiences and enhance the good ones.
There are numerous methods to improve your customer journey based on information collected from reviews. If a lack of communication is a common complaint, altering the copy and frequency of communication may help. If products are getting poor reviews for quality, it may be time to consult with your suppliers or improve the products.
You may be able to manage customer expectations by altering the details and claims about the product. For example, if a description claims your product is silent, but it makes a very small sound, simply adding the word “nearly” to the description may alleviate customer complaints and bring the product up to expectations.
Remember that modern consumers are more interested in authenticity than polished ads and big promises.
To help this perception of authenticity, ecommerce businesses may choose to provide a section for customer images and videos. Media of this type drips with authenticity, and users appreciate seeing potential purchases in the wild.
Putting it All Together
The results of consumer surveys and studies are crystal clear. Reviews are critical to most consumers, and their importance keeps growing. Ratings have a profound impact on purchasing decisions both in ecommerce and in retail stores.
A lack of reviews will cost conversions. Even a small number of reviews increases the likelihood of a sale by significant percentages. Although quality and content matter, generally, the more ratings and reviews the better. And customers appreciate when brands respond to reviews.
Action Items for Ecommerce Businesses
- Craft a strategy to garner reviews from satisfied customers.
- Allow users to upload pictures and videos as part of their reviews to increase your authenticity.
- Take some time to respond to those reviews, both positive and negative.
- When reading reviews: Look for pain points along the customer journey and make changes to mitigate them.
- Consider using Shopper Approved’s T&C Suite (Website Security certificate, Q&A, Seller Ratings, and Product Reviews) to promote trust in your customers.
- See if a partnership with a verified review provider like Shopper Approved is a good fit for your business.