Are customer reviews really necessary? For every legitimate, well-written response, there seems to be a review from an Internet troll or spammers looking to annoy potential purchasers or promote their own product.
Not to mention companies who flood their own product pages with favorable 5-star reviews in an attempt to make themselves look better.
But the fact is—for better or worse—these reviews really are necessary.
In a space that is increasingly focused upon efficiency and ease of consumption, e-commerce plays an unequivocal role in the modern shopping experience. We lead busy lives and our schedules leave little time to browse through stores at our leisure. Therefore, the convenience afforded by online shopping provides an invaluable service to the average consumer.
Unfortunately, this convenience comes with relative uncertainty regarding the quality of the products we select and the service of the retailers who provide them. This is where customer reviews play a vital role in e-commerce, providing online shoppers with a sense of security that encourages them to make a purchase.
They Give You Increased Credibility
Reviews—both positive and negative—increase the credibility of both a website and product. They alleviate doubt regarding whether or not you should make a purchase and help narrow down the options amid a sea of seemingly equal products. According to a survey done by BrightLocal in 2014, 72 percent of consumers actually trust a local business more if they read positive reviews about it, while only 10 percent did not take any notice of online reviews.
An additional survey by Dimensional Research had 90 percent of respondents claim that positive online reviews influenced their purchasing decision while 86 percent of them had been dissuaded by negative reviews in the past.
They Compel Your Customer to Buy
Customer reviews are not only beneficial to consumers, but to online retailers as well. The volume of information available on the Internet deems it necessary for a link to stand out so that users are inclined to follow it. Visuals such as stars and colors can be employed to make products with customer reviews more eye-catching than those without. Additionally, the increased activity generated by reviews on a website can increase its search engine optimization thus boosting its chance of being viewed.
According to Moz’s 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, consumer reviews make up 8.4 percent of the overall rank of a website’s search potential. However, reviews benefit online retailers far beyond SEO. Consumer feedback, whether it is praise or criticism, gives manufacturers and retailers important information they need in order to make improvements on a product so that it may more accurately reflect demand.
For electronic companies that release upgrades of existing products quite regularly, this feedback has become essential. As the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 are being designed, Apple and Samsung are no doubt looking at the most common gripes with their predecessors.
Whether it is short battery life, an inferior camera or a lack of waterproofing, these companies will do what they can to make up for the shortcomings of previous models. They can also source reviews to see what went right previously, and can expand on a popular feature or add something new in that same vein. In such a competitive landscape, companies like these must use all of the information at their disposal to stay ahead of their competition and retain customers.
Finally, customer reviews can be used as a variable for e-commerce comparison tools such as Comparaboo—a platform that analyzes different parameters to derive “value ratings” for specific products. Reviews from both customers and experts are an outstanding benchmark for determining brand quality, which is vital to this rating.
Related Article: 6 Customer Feedback Channels You Should Be Using
For better or for worse, customer reviews are imperative to both consumers and retailers, and our trust in this system will only grow as the popularity of online shopping does. There is no doubt that customer reviews are not only necessary but also integral to e-commerce and it is safe to say that they should be fully embraced.