Product reviews are essential for any business that sells directly to customers since they can shape and influence consumer purchase decisions. This is especially true if you use an eCommerce store since customers won’t be able to physically get their hands on the products and see what it’s all about. Often, product reviews are all the consumer has to go on regarding products listed in eCommerce stores, so they can have a significant impact on the online sales figures of a business.
While there are, of course, other factors that play into the consumer’s purchase decision, such as the company’s reputation and marketing campaigns, product reviews are king in eCommerce. To neglect them as a business owner would be to spurn the opportunity to get critical feedback about products that can be used to improve the customer experience and boost sales.
What are product reviews?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a product review is ‘a report in a newspaper, magazine, or program in which an expert gives an opinion about a product or compares various similar products’. This is an important definition, but for the purposes of this article, we want you to brush it aside.
We want you to think of a product review as the thoughts and experiences a customer has had when interacting with a product. In the eCommerce context, this means that a customer has bought a product, had it delivered, and then had hands-on experience with it, after which they wrote up their opinions for others to see.
In most cases, product reviews are honest accounts of a customer’s experience with the product, but not always. Fake reviews are an unfortunate reality that can tarnish a company’s reputation with false claims and low star ratings.
Your response to genuine product reviews should be to interact with them as much as possible by responding to comments and feedback, and if you notice what you suspect are fake reviews, you must flag or report them as soon as possible to limit the potential negative impact they can have.
Why are product reviews important?
Product reviews are important for a lot of reasons, which is why we’ve compiled the most important ones so that you can boost your eCommerce sales with this form of free marketing.
Product reviews can do a lot for your eCommerce sales from key customer insights to a better conversion rate.
1. Product reviews provide Better insights
Product reviews can provide crucial insights into the customer experience, which you can then use to improve your products.
They can also help your marketing efforts, since if for example customers seem to really appreciate one feature of the product, then you can double down on that and highlight it as a strong USP going forward.
Consumers will have certain expectations and standards going into the decision-making process, so if they choose yours that means you’ve ticked one or more boxes in their checklist. You can then read the product reviews to glean exactly what is that customers were most satisfied – and least satisfied – with.
2. Product reviews increase Trust
It’s no secret that consumers trust other consumers more than they trust a lot of companies.
Because it’s easier to trust the average individual and their thoughts/opinions of a product than it is to trust the words of a large company whose job it is to better the bottom line and get as many sales as possible.
As such, if you’re trying to come across as trustworthy to your customer base, then you need your words to be backed up with product reviews. If you offer a sustainable product and your process of manufacturing is entirely eco-friendly, then you should see that information reflected in the product reviews which will give you invaluable social proof and help you establish a reputation in the niche.
3. Product reviews can fix issues with products
Every product has flaws, even if they aren’t at first apparent.
Ideally, you want your customers to point these out to you, even if this might sound counterintuitive.
You can only do so much to ensure your product is the best it can be, after that, it’s down to the customers to find the flaws through continued use of it and robust testing.
By bringing attention to minor flaws or gripes with a product, customers can give you invaluable feedback that you can use to improve the product. This accomplishes two things: it shows customers you’re responsive and care about what they have to say, and potentially boosts sales as your product will be better suited to the market.
4. Product reviews can lead to more conversions
One of the most difficult things to do is convert interest in your product into sales.
While you might get a lot of eyeballs on your eCommerce product listings, if your bounce rate is high then it shows that customers aren’t happy with what you’re offering.
This could be down to an issue with your website’s interface, but more likely it’s due to the product reviews left by previous customers.
If your product reviews are largely positive, then this will inevitably convert more interest into sales – which can be difficult to do on your own and cost a lot of money.
5. Product reviews can help reduce product returns
Product returns are a headache that many companies have to deal with, sometimes unnecessarily.
Sure, to some extent, you can’t prevent the fact that some products will be faulty and require returning, but if this happens a lot you need to look at the product reviews.
The product reviews will typically tell you if there are any trends with product returns, for example, if several one-star reviews mention receiving a product that wasn’t fit for purpose for a specific reason then you need to look into it and see if it’s something you can address.
6. Product reviews work as proof
As a consumer, how do you know that a product works unless other people have tried it and used it successfully?
If a company claims that their coffee maker makes a great cup of coffee but several reviews mention a metallic taste in their cup of java, then there’s a disconnect and a lack of evidence to back up the company’s words.
You need to make sure your product works exactly as intended, and that may mean changing your wording or marketing to make sure customers can’t catch you out on something.
If you can collect a large number of reviews for your product, they can lend credibility to your company and prove to prospective consumers that they’re spending their money wisely.
How to get more product reviews?
One of the hardest things with product reviews is actually getting your customers to write them in the first place.
If everybody loves your product, but doesn’t bother to leave a review, then you could be missing out on all the benefits of product reviews listed above.
1. Display existing reviews
One way to get more product reviews is to display some of the existing reviews you have, which may just convince other customers to follow suit and do the same.
To display existing reviews, consider using a review widget like those offered by Trustindex, on your website. That way, every time a customer visits the website or makes a purchase, they’ll be reminded of the fact that they could write a review.
This strategy is in part reliant on your company already having some positive reviews, as of course you aren’t going to convince other customers to leave reviews if all you have on display is two-star reviews.
2. Make it easy to leave a product review
By simplifying the review process, you remove the number one obstacle that prevents a lot of customers from writing a review.
How can you make it easier?
For a start, you can create a review page through Google My Business or another platform and create a short URL link to it. Then, you can send out this link via social media or email alongside a polite request asking customers to write a review.
3. Use good product reviewing tools
There are many product review tools out there that can help you bring in more product reviews from your customers.
For example, if your business is listed on a website like Trustpilot or TripAdvisor (depending on the industry it’s in), then you can reliably expect people to come across it and it will be easy for them to leave a review.