Are Online Reviews Important for eCommerce Businesses?

In  Marketing

eCommerce businesses have seen a significant transformation in the last few years. Consumer behaviour has emerged as millions worldwide purchase products online, making online shopping an indispensable part of the retail industry. In 2022, retail eCommerce sales were expected to exceed 5.7 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide, which is expected to grow in the following years. Prospective customers want to buy from trusted and credible online businesses, and they do their research by reading online reviews before deciding upon buying. 95% of customers read online reviews before purchasing. 

In this article, we will discuss why online reviews are the backbone of eCommerce businesses, how they impact the success, credibility and sales of an online business and why business owners should understand the importance of online reviews and how to collect them. 

What Are Online Reviews?

Online Reviews

Online reviews are customers’ feedback, comments or evaluation on various digital platforms of your products or services. These pieces of content help potential customers make an informed purchasing decision. Reviews are split into three categories product reviews which focus on specific products and detail the quality, features and performance of a particular item, service reviews which are centred on the customer services experience, and company reviews, which underline a user’s experience with every aspect of a business as a whole.  

Online customer reviews can be collected through digital platforms such as social media networks, review websites, and eCommerce platforms. Consumers can voluntarily leave reviews, or they need some incentives such as a reward or a discount.    

Online consumer reviews are essential to the eCommerce industry as they provide valuable insights into the quality of your products, services and business, helping prospective customers make an educated buying decision. This type of user-generated content and the overall experience with your brand will influence your business reputation, trust and sales. Customer feedback can be positive, negative or neutral. Happy customers leaving positive reviews will help your business build trust, loyalty and credibility, improve search engine rankings and provide valuable information that you can use to improve your products, services and customer experience.  

It is crucial to understand the importance of customer feedback for eCommerce businesses and how to collect them. Harnessing the power of an online review strategy can drive growth and success in the competitive landscape of the eCommerce industry. 

The Importance and Benefits of Reviews for Online Stores

Online shopping is a big part of people’s lives in today’s age. Therefore, users have access to a great array of products and services worldwide and business reviews and product reviews are a part of the consumers’ decision-making behaviour.  

In this chapter, we will explore the importance and benefits of reviews for online stores and how they can influence user engagement, build an online reputation, boost your website in the SERP (search engine results page) and drive further improvements in product development. 

1. Purchase Decisions and User Behaviour

The importance of reviews cannot be overstated as they impact user purchase decisions and behaviour. 72% of consumers will be more likely to take action after reading a positive review, while 86% will be hesitant to buy after reading one negative review. Reviews impact online shoppers’ purchasing decisions, and the quality and quantity of the reviews can influence the overall perception of a product or service. A product with more positive feedback will be perceived as a high-quality product, while negative reviews will imprint in the consumer’s brain that the product quality is low. Moreover, positive reviews reinforce brand loyalty, and when a customer has a positive experience will be more likely to recommend it to family and friends. Therefore, more positive online reviews give eCommerce businesses a competitive advantage, while negative comments give your competitors an advantage.    

2. Business Trust and Credibility 

Customer feedback is essential in establishing trust and credibility with prospective customers. People tend to trust other consumers who have already used a product or service than the company itself. Positive feedbacks increase brand trust and online reputation, while customer testimonials can drive sales. Some factors influence trust and credibility, such as the number, quality, recency, overall rating and review source. The number and overall rating of online business reviews contribute to the total score of your brand. The higher the score, the more trust potential customers have to buy from you. The quality of feedback is vital as they provide detailed, genuine and informative opinions on a particular product or service. Recency is another element that influences trust and credibility. People tend to trust recent reviews more than older ones because they are interested in the current state of a product or service. The source of the evaluation is also essential as it can affect credibility. Trusted authorities perform better in establishing the credibility of a business than comments from unknown sources.    

3. Search Engine Rankings

Search Engine Rankings

Positive online ratings can significantly impact your business’s search rankings. Google and other search engines use online reviews to determine the relevance and popularity of an eCommerce store. Your SEO efforts can be boosted with the help of reviews. People use different types of keywords in their feedback, such as the product’s name, which adds user-generated content to your website. This helps your eCommerce business to appear in search queries when users type keywords related to your brand and products. Therefore, your online store increases its visibility when you have high ratings, improves click-through rates because potential consumers are more likely to click on a business listing with positive reviews, and improves local search rankings because Google prioritises local businesses with positive scores when displaying local search results. Moreover, your website’s EAT (expertise, authority, trustworthiness) get’s better, and Google loves to reward online stores with better ranking when they constantly have fresh user-generated content and positive reviews.

4. Further eCommerce Business Practice Improvements and Product Development 

People are very straightforward regarding their online shopping experience, and this is an important factor that can contribute to further improvements and product development. By analysing customer feedback, you can quickly identify areas where your business could be improved. It can be a lack of eCommerce personalisation, faulty customer service or chatbot, or lack of essential eCommerce features. Online customer reviews provide valuable insights into their needs, expectations, preferences and more. By identifying areas for improvement, you can address current issues and take the necessary steps to fix them. Your efforts to provide a flawless user experience and meet their needs will significantly impact customer satisfaction because you show you care about them and will strengthen customer loyalty.   

Factors that Affect Online Reviews for eCommerce Businesses

Online reviews help you understand how customers see your business and identify how to enlarge your customer base. Positive feedbacks highlight the things your business is good at. Negative comments give you an insight into how to improve some business areas, take accountability, and you have an opportunity to shift a negative experience into a positive one. 

Several factors can influence online product reviews. We strongly recommend that each eCommerce business owner understand these factors and pay close attention to them. Let’s explore the factors that can affect the nature and tone of customer reviews.

1. Customer Experience

An online shopping experience is complex. It starts with a search query and continues on your website. The website design is crucial to keep consumers. UX design and the user interface keep users engaged, the website architecture helps people find what they are looking for logically and naturally, the product presentation encourages users to buy, the checkout process is detrimental in finalising a purchase, shipping time and payment options are also factors that influence the buying decision, and the last part of a customer journey is receiving the goods and matching their expectations. Moreover, customer support plays a critical role, whether during the buying process or afterwards, if users have an issue with their order. Therefore, if users have all their expectations met, it is more likely to leave a good review. Still, if they face any inconvenience during the whole process, they point out the issue and give a neutral or bad review.  

2. Product Quality

Product Quality

The quality of a product or service is a significant factor influencing customer feedback. When satisfied with the quality, they will leave a positive review than those who still need to meet their expectations. Moreover, they are more likely to recommend the product and your brand to friends and family, increasing word-of-mouth marketing and driving more sales. 

On the other side, the customers that have an issue with the product quality will be disappointed, frustrated and even angry with their purchase, which will lead to leaving a bad review. Negative comments will spread fast, leading to decreased sales and brand reputation damage. 

Product quality reflects the brand’s value and ethics in the customer’s mind. When your products are high-quality, your business will be perceived as trustworthy and dependable, while enterprises that deliver questionable quality products are viewed as untrustworthy or unethical.

Cutting on your product quality to make more profit will only last for a while because you will get negative comments from customers, and in the long run, your business will lose money. But prioritising product quality will bring you more financial success if you maintain a positive online presence.

3. Customer Support

The online review valence is an integral part of the decision-making process for many prospective customers. When we talk about a purchase decision, online customer behaviour is influenced by the quality and reliability of a brand. Customer support plays a critical role in online customer feedback. As previously mentioned, the shopping experience is complex, and the quality of customer service counts for the overall star rating your business will receive. When you have exceptional customer support, the online rating will reflect the positive experience. When customer support meets users’ needs, the overall star rating will increase, and you might get more potential clients.  

We advise training and investing in a stellar customer support team that can empathise with clients, fix their issues fast and guide them through the sales funnel. Moreover, customer care can help build a loyal customer base and generate positive feedback. 

4. Brand Reputation

A company’s online reputation is consumers’ perception of the brand based on their experience and product interactions. We live in a technology and social media-dominated world. Therefore, consumers love sharing their experiences with a brand online, as almost half of the internet users post online reviews monthly. Positive comments can build a company’s reputation and increase its visibility, while negative comments can damage a brand’s reputation and discourage potential customers.   

We advise harnessing the power of online reviews and monitoring and responding to them to protect your reputation. By answering customers’ honest feedback, you show them you care about their experience and are committed to providing top-notch services. This approach will help you improve customer loyalty, increase sales, and ensure business success. 

Our Advice on How to Create a Marketing Strategy for Managing Online Reviews  

Online reputation management is detrimental to your business success. A strategy for managing online reviews is essential in today’s market. To keep your brand reputation or increase the trust in your company, we have some advice on how to start creating a marketing strategy for managing online reviews. 

  • The first step is to set your goals. We strongly recommend you be very specific with them. Think of what you want to achieve, such as generating more online reviews, identifying areas for improvement, etc. Defining your goals will make it easier to create a more effective strategy and reach your goals faster.   
  • You must choose an online review platform that is relevant to your business. Online review sites such as Trustpilot, Google, and Facebook are detrimental to your brand’s visibility. We strongly recommend creating a Google Business Profile to help your local visibility because 81% of shoppers use Google to evaluate local businesses. Identifying the eCommerce business review websites where customers are more likely to read and leave online comments is critical to your online review management strategy plan. 
  • Monitor your reviews to track all online feedback, respond promptly, and address issues or concerns quickly. We recommend using online tools to monitor your reviews, such as Google Alerts, which is free, or paid tools, such as Hootsuite Insights.  
  • A significant step is to respond to reviews. Responding to positive feedback shows consumers that you value their opinion. Addressing negative feedback shows customers you care about their experience and are committed to customer satisfaction. Be specific, empathic and understanding when responding to negative comments, offer a solution and apologise if appropriate. Moreover, we highly recommend you implement a strategy for addressing negative reviews. Keep in mind that you might receive fake reviews. We advise you to identify and report them.
  • You should encourage your customers to leave reviews. This will help boost your online reputation. You can ask them to share their experience through email marketing campaigns and social media platforms or a pop-up on your eCommerce website. You can provide incentives such as discounts or special offers to those who leave reviews. 
  • Leverage positive reviews by promoting them on your website, social media, marketing materials, etc. Customer feedback is a powerful marketing tool that helps your business build credibility and attract new customers
  • Make sure it is easy for customers to leave reviews and feature them on your product page. 
  • Analyse the results to identify trends in the types of reviews you receive and use this information to make improvements.

We strongly recommend you create and implement strategies to collect customer feedback. Empower your customers to share their opinion about your products and their overall experience with your eCommerce business to build a strong online presence and a stellar reputation. 

In conclusion, online reviews are essential for the success of eCommerce businesses as they help build trust and credibility, influence consumer decisions on purchasing from a specific brand, increase conversion rates and provide valuable feedback for companies to improve their products and operations. Online shopping and the growing importance of customer experience have made online reviews an indispensable part of the eCommerce landscape. We can help you maximise the potential of your business and stay competitive in today’s digital marketplace. Contact us today, and let’s take your eCommerce business to the next level! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do online reviews impact customer behaviour in the eCommerce industry?

Yes! A study by Harvard Business School found that online reviews can undeniably impact your business bottom line, and positive reviews can increase the sales of a product by 18%.

What influences the credibility and authenticity of online reviews?

The number of reviews, the reviewer profile and the language used for the feedback. Potential customers trust verified buyers and detailed descriptions of their experience.

How can eCommerce reviews build trust with prospective shoppers?

Social proof, transparency such as honest and unbiased perspective on the product, validation that your eCommerce store is reputable and trustworthy.

How to encourage customers to share their experiences with my eCommerce store?

You can start by asking for reviews, making it easy, offering incentives, providing exceptional customer service, and following up.