Why Retail Consumers Find Online Reviews Essential When Making a Purchase

We are officially in the age of the customer review. Truly, it’s not anything new. People have always depended on word of mouth to make buying choices. The big difference now is that word of mouth is often accessible on retailers’ websites, closing the gap between point-of-sale and advice.

Online Reviews Lend Credibility and Build Trust

Simply put, the mere presence of reviews show that your product has customers. Reviews are tremendously persuasive and show shoppers what their peers are buying. This makes them much more likely to follow suit. Your willingness to have your customers’ unedited opinions on your website shows them you trust your product. This in turn builds trust with your shoppers and can often be the reason they stay on your website and complete the purchasing process.

The study showed that presence of reviews was the second-most important factor for purchase decisions, behind the price of the product itself. There’s nothing quite like the turn-off that comes with opening up a webpage and seeing one lonely review or—gasp—no reviews at all! The survey reported that the presence of reviews was more important than brand name or the availability of free shipping.

Negative Reviews can Make Your Brand Feel More Trustworthy

Consumers are savvier than ever. They do extensive research and know how to sniff out overconfident advertising. While it’s easy to ignore hyperbole and go straight to the reviews, it’s hard to know how one retailer can stand out from a group of retailers when everyone has fairly good online reviews.

Enter the negative review. Surprisingly, negative reviews can help drive sales. You might be deadly afraid of bad reviews, but they can actually help enhance your image and set your website apart. “No one trusts all positive reviews,” says John McAteer, retail industry director at Google. McAteer is in charge of shopping.google.com, Google’s comparison shopping and review site. Having a few less-than-amazing reviews, “just enough to acknowledge that the product couldn’t be perfect,” helps lend a trustworthy feel to your website. It signals that you can stand behind what you sell even if someone doesn’t find it to be absolutely flawless.

This also gives you an opportunity to respond to your unsatisfied customers. A good brand manager or team will comb through reviews and offer thoughtful responses to some negative reviews. It’s important not to be combative, though. Offer remedies and understanding and stand by your commitment to excellent service. At eKomi, we work with Poopbags.com, an award-winning dog waste bag company, and their customer service team does an amazing job turning negative reviews into opportunities to improve their service.

Not All Reviews Are Created Equal

So, you have a good number of reviews, and you’ve got one or two negative reviews. You make sure to interface with some of your less satisfied customers. All set, right? Maybe not. Longer reviews tend to be ranked higher because they qualify as more helpful material, the PowerReviews study showed. More detailed reviews are more trustworthy and people tended to gravitate towards reviews with higher word count. At the same time, they were turned off by short reviews, regardless of whether the reviews were negative or positive.

Many retailers offer a tag system in their reviews. Most commonly implemented in taxi apps like Lyft, these allow the user to quickly tap certain tags (good driver, clean car, good conversation), and they paint an easily digestible picture of the product that is separate from the story told in the text of the review.

More Reviews Can Lead To More Sales

Research has shown that consumers will wait until there are a good number of reviews on a product website before making a purchase. When there are a sufficient number of reviews, conversion rates grow as more reviews pour in. When comparing one product with one or two reviews to one with ten or more, conversion rates were drastically higher for the product with ten reviews.

Our partnership with Poopbags.com has yielded a very fruitful relationship, and their customer service team has seamlessly integrated customer reviews into their work. When someone searches for the best poop bags for their dog, Poopbags.com always rates highly, with 425 total reviews and a 98% positive review rate. With a product like dog poop bags, buyers want to get down and dirty in online reviews to make sure they stay, well, not down and dirty with their mutt’s waste.


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