Modern Retail

The power of online reviews in retail

Product reviews make a big impact on consumers’ expectations and online purchase decisions. Shoppers not only look to online reviews for more information, but consumers nowadays prefer to visit eCommerce sites that offer reviews. In the last three to five years, the presence of reviews has reinforced the expectation that there should be reviews. People who shop online have come to expect them as part of the experience, and as a result, are using them more. They want to see reviews good or bad, and expect to see them in every channel.

Ratings and online reviews have fast become a primary source of information for shoppers and are also key to delivery as studies in the past have shown that reviews tend to focus on the delivery experience as well.

A question of trust

Why are reviews so important? The implied transparency helps establish authenticity and trust among consumers. And beyond the benefits of increased conversion and improved SEO, customer reviews offer unique perspectives on the user experience.

“Negative online reviews are essential to building consumer trust” says Rory O’Connor. “If you only present glowing, positive reviews all the time, it reduces credibility. We have found that the majority of consumers actually seek out negative reviews as a way of confirming credibility. Even a bad review offers insight into future product performance. Most people understand that another person’s negative feedback could be a relevant factor for them, and will adjust their expectations accordingly.”

The surprising way to transform negative reviews to 5-star ratings.

The rise of the review culture in eCommerce means that every shopper now has the potential to be an influencer. Customers are increasingly unforgiving when it comes to expectations not being met with almost two-thirds of shoppers likely to leave a negative review following a bad shopping experience.

​​It’s important for retailers to not underestimate the power of online reviews, customers don’t just use them to compare products, they are a major influence on consumers’ perception of a brand. So what are the important takeaways for retailers when it comes to reviews?

​More than half of all shoppers read online reviews before buying, every time they buy.

Consumers are reliant on shoppers’ feedback and product reviews.

Eight out of 10 millennials never buy anything without first reading a review.

Maybe as a merchant, you have optimised your eCommerce website in every way that makes it simple for a shopper to find your store, search items and purchase at the checkout with ease, but if you have low ratings or, even worse, no reviews listed on your site you are likely to be missing out on a huge chunk of the pie. Stores that do not display reviews only serve to inspire suspicion from potential buyers who view this lack of transparency as reason to believe the brand has something to hide. 

​Many UK shoppers are sceptical of brands that fail to share product reviews from other customers

Positive reviews perpetuate positive results.

Most eCommerce shoppers spend more with retailers that have excellent reviews or high star ratings. 

The digitally empowered customer is confronted with an overwhelming abundance of choice when it comes to online shopping. They are likely to be time-poor, have high expectations and be unwilling to take risks with their money.

So when a buyer is running online comparisons and is presented with positive reviews and 5-star ratings they are immediately put at ease that their hard-earned money won’t go down the drain. They are reassured that the risk of buying a product they’ve never touched from a retailer that they’ve never dealt with is dramatically reduced.

Favourable reviews instil a sense of trust in the shopper and enhance a brand’s reputation. Studies have shown that positive reviews are proven to increase conversion, enhance retention and boost spending. 

Cultivating positive reviews can give retailers a very serious edge over their rivals. It might seem like a no brainer but many retailers don’t seem to have caught on to the concept.

If you are an online retailer, how do you go about ensuring that you’re encouraging good results, the first step is to look at the negative reviews your store receives and analyse them for areas of opportunity. The aspects of the customer journey that need improvement will become obvious.  Hint – You might want to start with operations…

Operational failures are at the heart of most negative reviews.

Retailers need to adopt a strategic approach when it comes to acting on reviews. Analysing negative reviews and researching positive feedback of stores with excellent ratings will highlight what it is that delights a customer to the point of writing a favourable review. 

Everything is pointing back to operational excellence more so than price, product or how snazzy a website is. 

Glowing reviews focused on the aspects of the customer journey that happened after the purchase itself with these ate top – ease and speed of delivery, same day and next day delivery options, being able to track the parcel in real-time, excellent customer service and response times and convenient returns.

A retailer that doesn’t have these elements nailed is doomed to receive repeated negative reviews about poor delivery. Most bad reviews are about bad post-purchase service, items not arriving on time, failed deliveries, or a lack of delivery updates.

Analysis and action – retailers need to respond to negative reviews.

Negative reviews can cause a chain reaction for a store. 

  • Shoppers are highly dubious about shopping with a brand that has more than five negative reviews.
  • Also, consumers are easily turned off by a retailer they would have shopped with by a single unfavourable review.
  • It is still a challenge for many retailers how best to deal with negative reviews. The best approach for a retailer is to implement a solid strategy to rectify issues, and it’s clear that getting delivery and customer service right should be the focus for retailers suffering from bad reviews.  
  • Retailers that employ a reliable delivery management solution can streamline their operations as well as provide the customer with a seamless experience. For example, retailers that use the Scurri software have access to a suite of dependable carriers all through the one platform that gives them and their customers with full visibility of a parcel all the way along its journey. No more failed deliveries and no more ‘where’s my order’ complaints.

Negative reviews should always be viewed as an opportunity to improve the customer journey and not a threat and the technology exists to ensure that these issues disappear. 

By implementing solutions a retailer can turn their negative reviews around. And the great news is that customers only look at the most recent reviews so with a comprehensive reviews strategy and the correct technology in place retailers can build up reputation and trust again and earn fresh reviews. Also, a lot of shoppers also look more favourably on retailers who actively respond to negative reviews posted about their services online.

Rory O'Connor

Rory O' Connor, is the founder and CEO of Scurri. Since launch Rory has focused on building and leading an impressive team of highly experienced technologists and advisors. Rory has won significant investment for the software business, raising over €7 million investment from private individuals, business angel investors and Enterprise Ireland.

Prior to founding Scurri in 2010, he worked in various roles in Waterford Wedgwood, in sales, marketing and strategic project roles including being part of the team that delivered a €10m SAP implementation.

Rory subsequently worked as a change management consultant with clients such as Heineken, Intel, Ogilvy and Siemens and as a project manager with AOL broadband. Rory has a number of business qualification including holding an MBA from Henley Management College.