Online Rating & Reviews have become an essential pillar of the online shopping experience for consumers, retailers and brands.
Reviews help shoppers choose between competitive products. As such, for brands seeking to secure the attention of online shoppers, and hoping to win long-term loyalty, optimizing online Ratings & Reviews is one of the important fundamentals of online merchandising – if only for the simple fact that positive reviews drive sales. Moreover, the volume of authentic consumer generated content is an invaluable source of consumer intelligence and sentiment data for product manufacturers.
Ratings & Reviews, Conversion & Sales
There are lots of statistics that show just how important online consumer-reviews are when it comes to delivering sales, online and offline:
A study by the Harvard Business School entitled “Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com” dating back to 2016 established that online reviews and positive ratings directly affect sell through. According to the study, even a small improvement in a product’s rating can have a significant impact. The researchers calculated that a one star rating improvement on Yelp.com could increase sales by five to nine percent.
More recent studies concur. Bazaarvoice, which provides a Ratings & Reviews syndication platform, found a similar correlation between reviews, star ratings and sales potential. According to the Bazaarvoice Conversion Index, even a single product review can result in a 10 percent conversion and order uplift. Growing review volumes leads to better results, with 200 reviews per product having the potential to increase sales by 44 percent, Bazaarvoice says.
Yotpo, which like Bazaarvoice helps brands syndicate user-generated content, analyzed reviews for over 6000 products on its site. The analysis confirms the impact of small margins when it comes to rating scores. Products with an average rating of four stars get 11.6 times more orders than products with an average star rating of three stars, it found. The crucial difference being between a score of 3.9 and one of 4.1, which can make the biggest impact on sales numbers.
In addition, reviews also support gains in organic search traffic – an effect that kicks in at about eight reviews, according to Bazaarvoice. The benefits eventually become self-fulfilling to a degree as reviews generate more reviews, creating a virtuous circle of reviews, traffic, conversion, sales and more reviews.
Given the direct impact on sales, it makes sense for brands to invest in efforts to achieve review numbers and star ratings that outshine competitors. However, the brands that arguably get most value from online reviews are those that make the effort to mine the available user generated content for insights, uncovering unexpected consumer desires, and needs.
It requires a certain volume of review content to deliver valuable insights – somewhere between 100 and 200 – but once you reach sufficient volume you can use pattern and sentiment analysis to identify what consumers are really saying about your products. The type of insights you can expect to uncover include:
Buried in the detail of many reviews – particularly in the three to four star-rating range – are potentially valuable product suggestions. Often reviewers that are not quite satisfied with your products will offer recommendations for improvement. Once uncovered, categorized, and analysed these suggestion can help guide product development, new product planning, marketing, and communications.
Online reviewers often mention competitors, and provide detailed comparisons of one product versus another in online reviews. Analyzing the reviews where other products are mentioned and comparing to star-rating results can be used to benchmark consumer sentiment and expose how your products are viewed compared to rivals. The analysis can also identify unexpected competitive threats including previously unrecognized competitors.
In many cases, in-depth assessment of negative reviews reveals there is nothing wrong with your product, but that problems lie elsewhere in the shopper journey. For example, shipping and delivery is a key part of the online consumer experience, but according to Citizens Advice in the UK packages that arrive late or damaged, or simply never turn up, affect two-thirds of online shoppers every year. It’s important to identify packaging issues early and fix flaws before they damage your brand image, while if the problem is related to shipping you may be able to work with your online retailer to expunge negative reviews from your record.
eShopper Review Analysis, an eStoreResearch solution from eStoreMedia, leverages cutting-edge technology to evaluate e-commerce ratings and reviews, and how they impact consumer decisions. The results, based on analyzing thousands of real consumer reviews published on key e‑commerce sites, identify hidden consumer insights, value drivers, and evaluate their impact on brand equity.
The subject of Ratings & Reviews will be covered in the eStoreAcademy webinar, 'Ratings & Reviews: deepening engagement, building confidence and increasing sales', which is now available on-demand.