It’s no secret that reviews and ratings can be game-changers for ecommerce businesses. Customers are looking for reassurance before they buy, and your online reputation is the key to getting them to convert. Reviews provide social proof that other people like your products, while ratings help potential customers understand how your products and services compare to the competition.

As consumers have moved online during the pandemic, the impact of reviews has increased even more. Online review sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor have gained massive momentum, and a constantly growing number of ecommerce companies are showcasing reviews on their sites. Reviews have, simply put, become an integral part of online shopping.

This becomes even more evident when looking at the statistics; the number of online ratings and reviews snowballed during the pandemic, with 40-80% increases. And in December 2020, the number of ratings grew by as much as 87% compared to the year before.

According to McKinsey and data from Bazaarvoice Network, the categories that experienced the most significant increase in reviews:

  • 200% increase for arts and entertainment
  • 180% increase for food, drinks, and tobacco
  • 80% increase for health and beauty

The pandemic altered consumer behaviors in many ways, and the move from brick-and-mortar to digital spaces is not likely to be reversed. And as the trend towards online shopping continues and ecommerce competition grows increasingly intense, reviews will most likely become a more critical component of winning ecommerce strategies moving forward.

Related Reading: How Digital Commerce Changed Consumer Behavior in 2020

Off-site and On-site Reviews

In ecommerce, there are two different types of customer reviews: those that are off-site on third-party platforms and those that you host on your own website. Both types play an essential role in ecommerce marketing.

Today’s biggest review platforms are Google and Facebook, but sites like Trustpilot, Yelp, and Yotpo are also important in B2C marketing. Reviews on third-party sites can help brands build trust, drive traffic, and gain exposure with new audiences. Off-site reviews come with a different level of built-in trust and can give your brand a significant boost if leveraged well.

However, in this post, we will focus on on-site product reviews.

5 Benefits of Ratings and Reviews in Ecommerce

It’s easy to understand why reviews have such an impact; people trust other people a lot more than they trust marketing messages. According to the 2021 Power of Reviews survey, as many as 98% of consumers feel that reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions, up from 89% a few years ago.

Integrating and optimizing reviews on your ecommerce site can have a truly transformative effect on your results and help you achieve five key benefits.

1. Increased Sales

The Spiegel Research Center has reported that “The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than the purchase likelihood of a product with no reviews.” This tells you something about the power of reviews when it comes to driving conversions.

An overwhelming majority of online shoppers read product reviews as a part of their research and consider them in their purchasing decisions. Great reviews have the power to boost your conversions dramatically, while products with no reviews are way less likely to drive sales.

2. Stronger Differentiation

Positive reviews help your product stand out from those of your competitors. A virtual tsunami of online options meets today’s consumers, and reviews allow them to screen and compare the endless variations.

Chances are your product – or versions of it – can be found on multiple sites and marketplaces. Then positive reviews can be the number one most efficient way to differentiate your offer from the rest. It makes sense for a consumer to pick the option with the highest rating, all other things being equal.

3. Improved Seo (Search Engine Optimization)

If your brand is not found on Google, it doesn’t exist in the consumer’s mind. SEO is a crucial component in ecommerce marketing, and having active reviews on your product pages is excellent for improving your ranking. How so? Well, because the Google algorithm loves constantly updated and growing content, and with ratings and reviews on your site, this happens organically.

Companies like our partner Yotpo can help you with integrations to Google and Facebook to boost brand discoverability and traffic from search and social even further.

4. Increased Customer Insights

One sometimes overlooked benefit of reviews is that they provide a window into the minds of your customers. And while receiving a negative review can be painful, it also gives you valuable information about something your business can improve. Keeping track of your reviews and immediately tending to the less than enthusiastic ones will help you continually improve the customer experience, as well as your overall ratings.

5. Increased Trust

A good number of positive reviews provides that feeling that a product has been tried, tested, and approved by others before us, which lessens our risk and makes us feel safer pressing that buy-button.

However, too many reviews that seem a bit too good to be true can have the opposite effect. If there’s not one single sub-5-star review though, buyers will become skeptical about the authenticity and suspect you’re tampering with the ratings. Ideally, there should be a good amount of reviews, with a realistic balance and with statements that seem honest.

Related Reading: Optimize Your Digital Customer Experience

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How to Collect Product Reviews

The First Step is to Ask for Them

One common mistake is to just offer the possibility to leave reviews, but without actively encouraging customers to do so. What often happens then is that only the very unhappy customers will go through the effort of finding out how to leave a review, and your results will be skewed in a negative direction.

Luckily, studies show that more than 70% of consumers will leave a review if you just ask them. Asking for reviews after each purchase should be an automated part of your ecommerce strategy.

Follow Up with Reminders

Many customers will not be opening all of your emails, so include reminders via email or SMS to make sure they don’t miss your question. It can be in a specific email where you also take the opportunity to thank you for their purchase, or you can include it in other types of marketing communication. Experiment to understand what yields the best results for you.

Offer an Incentive

A very efficient way to gain some extra traction for a specific product or category is to incentivize leaving reviews. The incentive can be a discount on future purchases, free shipping, access to exclusive offers, or the chance to win a gift card. It doesn’t have to be big, just something that makes your customers feel like it’s worth the time and effort it takes them to leave a review.

Use a Survey Tool

Using a survey tool made for reviews is usually the best way to gather feedback about both your products and the buying experience as a whole. For example, you might want to ask about the product, but also about the delivery experience.

When designing your survey, try to strike that magic balance where you get the level of details you need without your customers getting tired of answering and abandoning the survey halfway. Asking shoppers to rate different aspects of the product and experience will give you more granular information but will also take longer for your buyer to answer.

Engage with All Reviews

Answering the reviews you receive is an opportunity to build trust and brand affinity that you don’t want to miss. By engaging with and answering all reviews, you show customers that you take note of what they say and constantly work to improve.

Customers are more likely to leave reviews when a brand actively engages with them and doing so is also a chance to mitigate the damage of negative reviews. For positive reviews, the bare minimum is to say “thank you,” and for negative reviews, you should provide a clear and apologetic offer to make things right.

According to data from ReviewTrackers, 53% of customers expect a response to a negative review within one week. And, 45% of consumers cite that they are more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.There are platforms that automate this process to make it effective at scale.

Related Reading: B2B Ecommerce Design & Development Trends 2021

How Vaimo Can Help

Not only will reviews provide valuable insights into the minds of your customers, help you build trust, and increase conversions. Asking for feedback, and acting on it, will position you as a brand that listens to your customers and puts their experience at the center of your business. It’s a way of showing that the customer experience matters to you, which is an important message.

According to Salesforce, 80% consider their experience with a brand to be as important as the actual products. A solid ecommerce strategy, including a strategic approach to gathering and using product reviews, will help you provide the best possible shopping experience for your customers.

There are many ways to incorporate reviews on your site, and we’re happy to help you find the best one. For example, Annex Cloud, one of our partners, includes reviews as part of its overall offering.

In ecommerce, staying a few steps ahead is key to success. As many shoppers start planning their holiday spending well in advance, it’s essential to ensure you have an efficient review strategy in place as early as possible. And as November and December are busy months, they will also provide you with a valuable opportunity to collect new and positive reviews and start next year strong.

At Vaimo, we’re experts in all things ecommerce. We have extensive experience in helping our clients take their online businesses to the next level, and we’d be happy to help you get started with or better at leveraging product reviews. Get in touch with our team of experts to explore the opportunities.

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At Vaimo we help brands, retailers, and manufacturers all over the world to drive success in digital commerce. Reach out to us if you want to hear more about how we can improve your customer experience strategy, go to market plan or explore how technology can enable success.