The Increasing Importance of Online Reviews for E-Commerce

The Increasing Importance of Online Reviews for E-Commerce

Online reviews have always been important in commerce, and especially in E-Commerce. However, one of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has been that more and more businesses have been started online, or then transferred online from brick and mortar.

This has resulted in more competition in every niche of e-commerce with consumers having more variety and more options.

As a result, online reviews have become even more important in order to attract consumers, and then to get them to buy.

This article explores why online reviews are becoming more important and what you can do to make sure your business is properly set up to take advantage of online reviews.

Let’s begin.

More Businesses Turning to E-Commerce

E-Commerce has been around for 20 years or so and so we cannot say this is anything new. Indeed, for many younger people, this is just a way of life, the way things have always been.

With the advent of smartphones and increasing connectivity that includes 4G, and now 5G, it has become easier for consumers to remain connected irrespective of where they are.

These trends and a more ‘impulsive’ nature of purchasing habits with higher disposable incomes over time, has resulted in a greater acceptance of e-commerce. People now frequently buy items from books to clothes, to home goods and more luxury items as well, almost on a whim but very regularly.

Source: Geoblink

Amazon was the first mover, or the first mover at scale in this market when they opened their portals to allow online purchases back in 1994.

A cursory look at my own inbox shows how frequently I use Amazon and purchase from there.

ecommerce purchases and online reviews

Although the trend for the growth of e-commerce was already strong, the coronavirus pandemic has supercharged this by between four to six years, even from the beginning of the pandemic when lockdowns began.

Effects of national and then local and regional lockdowns across the world have meant that people have been struggling to get out for basic amenities such as food and drink, toiletries or clothing.

This has put the e-commerce market on a growth track many years ahead of where it was anticipated to be.

Source: Bank of America, US Department of Commerce, ShawSpring Research, Forrester Analytics, McKinsey Retail Practice

Statistics for e-commerce already indicated that people were comfortable shopping online and that this had been steadily growing.

Forecasts for this growth are now even stronger meaning competition will also increase.

Mobile Commerce (M-Commerce) More Prevalent

The rise of people feeling confident enough to buy via their smartphones is another trend that has lead to an increase in digital commerce.

It is now very easy and very safe to buy via your mobile phone. Given people spend 3.5 hours a day on their phone, and this trend is rising, it’s not surprising that it’s becoming the easier option.

Source: Recode

Mobile optimisation is an important search ranking factor in Google as well and so businesses that want to do well online are strongly persuaded to ensure the site is mobile optimised, otherwise, they won’t rank well.

This eases historical frictions that existed with people shopping online. Now commerce websites can be seen on mobile much easier which means images load well, are fully viewable, and page to page transition is also fluid.

All of this has led to greater adoption of commerce via mobile.

More Competition in All Niches

All of the extra businesses coming online, results inevitably, to an increase in competition in all the more popular niches.

Business sectors such as makeup, fashion, fitness and health are sectors that have always been very popular but are increasingly seeing more interest from owners of new businesses.

popular ecommerce niches for online reviews

Source: ShipBob

Although it takes time to build a brand and trust with customers, product quality and service are some of the key determinants that lead to business growth.

Being ‘in touch’ with your customer is also important. Newer and smaller businesses that come online will invariably be closer to the customer because they are smaller and can afford to do this (and can practically do this). This puts them at an advantage to stay in touch with the customer and give them what they want.

For all businesses, but for e-commerce in particular, it is critical you find a way to be in touch with your customers. This way you can build trust and learn what they want. Click To Tweet

With brick and mortar stores that may be coming online for the first time, it may also be easier to be in touch with customer needs because they will likely know their customers very well, perhaps even on first name terms. As such, they will be more able to understand what their customers want and have channels and direct routes to those customers to ensure they keep delivering what customers want.

So there are varying types of competition for new businesses starting online, and for the existing businesses that have been operating online for while.

One of the best ways for all businesses to combat this is through getting closer to the customer via online reviews.

Online Reviews an Important Differentiator

Through all this changing landscape, one thing is constant; people trust other people’s experiences of what they purchased.

Online reviews have been a very important part of e-commerce from the start.

the importance of online reviews

Source: WordStream

The reason why online reviews are important is that people trust them. It is not corporate marketing, but instead, the real-world experiences of people who have paid their hard-earned cash for your product.

people trust online reviews

Source: Statista

The customers who leave reviews have a vested interest given they have spent money and so their voice is ever more important.

This is why other potential customers are so keen to hear what it is they have to say. This is also why online reviews are so important for businesses to be able to materially differentiate themselves from the competition.

Online Reviews get Customers to Convert

If your friend suggested a place to eat out at or raved about a new pair of sneakers they purchased, and the ease of the buying experience and the service, you’d be intrigued right?

That’s the power of personal recommendations and in real life, they would inform and shape our purchasing decisions.

Online reviews are the equivalent in the online world and have as much impact, if not more than in real life. When customers are at the cart and considering if to continue or not, online reviews can make the difference.

Given it is difficult to touch and feel products you buy online, it becomes even more important to have additional views around the product you are looking to buy, and the service you received when you made the purchase.

Online reviews are the tool for e-commerce businesses that actually make the sale. There are many statistics that talk about the impact online reviews have on online purchases. Some of the more relevant ones are below:

  • The purchase likelihood for a product with 5 reviews is 270% greater than a product with 0 reviews
  • Improving your review star rating by 1.5 could equal 13,000 more leads
  • Just 53% of people would consider using a business with fewer than 4 stars
  • 48% of consumers pay attention to reviews written within the past 2 weeks

Source: BrightLocal

So it’s pretty clear online reviews have the ability to convert customers to buy. However, it’s important to note that reviews need to be used effectively.

Nothing converts visitors to your online store quite like online reviews. Consumers want to trust before they buy & online reviews allow for this. Click To Tweet

Firstly, just star ratings do not have the same impact as star ratings that have text reviews associated as well.

Text reviews give context and additional details that customers will find more useful. If online reviews have more information beyond just good or bad, it gives customers the confidence to buy.

As such, the more detailed the product review, the more helpful the review, and so the higher the likelihood that visitors will convert.

Online Reviews Help with E-Commerce SEO

Online reviews are user-generated content (UGC). If you can get online reviews right, they can massively help your SEO.

The advantages of better SEO should be obvious but are that you have a greater presence in search engines to the extent that your business has a better chance of being found more prominently.

A recent study by Moz suggests over 50% of a site’s rankings are influenced by off-site SEO. Although the term “online reviews” is not explicitly identified, they do contribute massively to DLKAF, SM, DLBF and PLLF ranking factors as in the notations below.

online reviews as ranking factors in search

Source: Moz

The most important characteristics of e-commerce SEO are that it depends on keyword use, and on the frequency of content.

If you think about it, online reviews have the opportunity to materially influence your e-commerce SEO because repeated references to your product or niche are likely to come up in the reviews that people give. This should, over time, give you dominance with regards to the relevant use of your keywords if you are able to collect reviews frequently.

Online reviews are critical to improving e-commerce SEO. This helps brands get found online with more of their target market. Click To Tweet

With regards frequency of content, this is about having systems in place to ensure that you collect online reviews from as many of your customers as possible.

Research has shown that 76% of customers who are asked to leave a review, end up writing one.

Source: BrightLocal

But what we see is that most e-commerce businesses don’t actively ask businesses to leave reviews. Instead, they passively expect customers to leave reviews.

The fact is that most happy customers don’t actually leave reviews until asked to do so. The logic is if you’re happy, you’re happy.

However, most customers that have a bad experience go on to leave a negative review. After all, they want to let people know of the negative experience they had and share their displeasure.

This causes a bias in the reviews for any e-commerce product, which does not help your business.

Not only does this lead to more negative sentiment than is actually the case, but it also gives you bad data overall with which to make decisions.

This is why imperative to your online review strategy is that you seek online reviews from all customers, irrespective of if the feedback is good or bad.

In so doing, you can have more feedback overall, and present a more realistic picture of your business for yourself and your customers. This will also give you better e-commerce SEO so that your business can grow in the long term.

How We Can Help

Syntellio is all about online reviews for e-commerce businesses. This is what we focus on and the community we seek to help.

We get you more online reviews for your e-commerce business so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

But we also seek to get more online reviews that have more detail, context and description as opposed to just a star rating. This not only helps your customers but also helps you as well.

So if you want to grow your business, and your presence online through online reviews, get in touch with us today.

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